Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ecuador planned power plant in Yasuni national park, documents show

David Hill in the Guardian (UK): Ecuador’s government was moving to install a power plant to exploit oil fields under the iconic Yasuni national park at the same time as pursuing a high-profile international scheme not to exploit the oil, according to government documents seen by the Guardian.

Plans to install the plant further undermine claims by the government that it was seriously pursuing the “Yasuni-ITT Initiative” – a pioneering scheme to leave the oil in the ground in return for financial compensation from international donors.

The Yasuni national park is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet and home to indigenous peoples, some living in what Ecuador’s constitution law calls “voluntary isolation.” The ground-breaking initiative, publicly endorsed by the government in 2007, was widely praised by green and human rights groups and had been seen around the world as a novel attempt to protect forest and people. It was formally abandoned by the government last August after just 0.37% of the financial target was received from donors.

But the existence of a behind-the-scenes plan in 2010 to build energy infrastructure to power a drilling operation there casts doubt on the government’s commitment to the Yasuni-ITT initiative.

“In my opinion, these documents show that the government was actually preparing the extraction of the oil at the same time that it was officially promoting the opposite,” says Carlos Larrea, from the University Andina Simón Bolivar, who worked as an adviser between 2007 and 2011 to the government’s team promoting the Yasuni-ITT Initiative....

A green vine snake in Yasuni National Park, shot by Geoff Gallice, Wikmedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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