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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ecuador to Sign Yasuni-ITT Environmental Trust Agreement

QUITO – Ecuador expects to sign next week in Denmark an agreement creating a trust fund to manage international contributions to the Yasuni-ITT initiative, which calls for Quito to leave some 850 million barrels of oil in the ground in exchange for $3 billion in aid, Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said Friday.

The minister said he and President Rafael Correa defined the scope of the financial instrument that will “allow all the financing to be secured” during a meeting Thursday.

He said the trust fund will be administered by the government and the U.N. Development Program and added that the money will be invested in projects that expand renewable energy generation in Ecuador.

“We hope that the following week in Denmark (venue of the global climate summit) we can sign the trust agreement, which provides guarantees as to the use of the funds and the project’s credibility in the future,” Falconi told Ecuavisa television.

The initiative refers to the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha, or ITT, oil reserve, which is located in the eastern portion of the Ecuadorian Amazon within the limits of the Yasuni National Park, one of the world’s most bio-diverse regions.

Ecuador estimates that while it could earn around $6 billion by extracting and selling the oil, leaving the crude in the ground would avert the creation of 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, seen as the chief man-made cause of climate change.

Falconi said Friday that Quito already has “a concrete offer” from the German government to contribute 50 million euros ($73 million) per year over a span of 13 years; in other words we’re talking about close to 650 million euros ($950 million), which is hardly an insignificant figure.”

He added “there is also a concrete offer from the Spanish government and there’s a very good conversation at this time with the Belgian government, which also may be prepared to contribute to the project,” although he did not offer any details.

Falconi recalled that the German government has conditioned its donation on the creation of the trust fund.

“The idea is to have an instrument that instills sufficient confidence in governments, donors and especially citizens worldwide, because this is a global (commitment) on our part that we’re not going to extract the crude that’s in the subsoil,” he said. EFE

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