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“Paying to avoid”?

10/17/2011 - A high-ranking delegation from Ecuador, led by Ivonne Baki, Head of the Yasuní Initiative Negotiating Team, visited the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) last thursday to promote the so called Yasuní Initiative. The Yasuní Ishpingo Tambococha Tiputini (ITT) Initiative introduces the idea of “paying to avoid” to preserve the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador by leaving its newly found oil reserves in the ground.
“Paying to avoid”?

Yasuní National Park is one of the world´s most biodiverse locations. (Foto: Geoff Gallice, Flickr)

“This is a pioneer example for humankind,” said Baki in her introductory speech. The Yasuní National Park is designated as a world biosphere reserve and one of the most biodiverse locations on earth. Approximately 850 barrels of oil are believed to lie underneath, that´s 20% of Ecuador´s oil sources. Ecuador proposes not to extract the oil if it gets half of the revenues of its exploitation – about 3.5 billion US$ in 13 years – through an international multi-donor trust fund. The money is meant to be spent for the development of renewable energy, reforestation in other parts of Ecuador and social development.

By not exploiting the oil, the emission of about 407 million metric tons of CO2 would be avoided, plus an additional 800 million metric tons of CO2 from avoided deforestation. Thus, the Yasuní-ITT Initiative presents itself as an innovative way to cut emissions and a global responsibility. “This is an interesting approach,” said Kirsten Thonicke, acting co-chair of PIK´s research domain Earth System Analysis. “It should be thoroughly examined in regards to its financial, legal and political feasibility.”

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