LAHT, 27 October, 2009
LONDON – Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa said on Tuesday that wealthy nations should make up for their disproportionate role in causing climate change by financing poor countries’ adoption of green policies.
“Climate change has been produced principally by the rich countries, but it most affects the countries of the third world,” he told an audience at the Chatham House think-tank in London.
The left-leaning president was there to promote the Yasuni-ITT initiative, Ecuador’s offer to forgo exploiting an estimated 850 million barrels in Amazon oil reserves in exchange for $3 billion in aid from wealthy nations over the course of 10 years.
Ecuador estimates that while it could earn around $6 billion by extracting and selling the oil, leaving the petroleum in the ground would avert the creation of 407 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, seen as the chief man-made cause of climate change.
Correa blamed climate change for the catastrophic floods that destroyed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of crops in Ecuador last year and urged rich nations to accept their responsibility for the problem.
He said governments in the developing world must have something to offer their own struggling citizens when they ask them to leave rainforests and other environmentally sensitive areas untouched.
The U.S.-trained economist also outlined his idea to create a new financial instrument similar to tradable carbon-offset credits.
Correa said every country contributing to the Yasuni initiative would receive “carbon bonds” that guaranteed a full return on investment plus interest should Ecuador eventually decide to tap the Amazon oil reserves.
Ecuador says it will use proceeds from the proposed ITT-Yasuni trust to fund economic development and renewable energy projects and to prevent deforestation in 40 environmentally protected zones.
While several countries have expressed interest, only Germany has committed to providing Ecuador with $50 million annually for 13 years, Correa said in London.
Oil is Ecuador’s main export, and the Andean nation currently produces an average of about 500,000 barrels per day of crude, of which state-owned Petroecuador accounts for just over 50 percent.
Revenue from oil exports finances roughly 35 percent of Ecuador’s public spending. EFE