The Ecuadorian proposal, known as the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, would protect a large area of pristine Amazon rainforest, by leaving untouched nearly one billion barrels of oil that lies beneath the Yasuní National Park in Ecuador.
Under the initiative, the government would sell certificates linked to the value of the unreleased carbon to provide alternative revenue to that which would come from exploiting the oil reserves.
"This is a really novel approach that could fund a lot of rainforest protection," said Clinton Jenkins, a research scientist in the University of Maryland's department of biology. "It's also an innovative way of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions."
"There has been a lot of talk about engineering ways to reduce or offset greenhouse gas emissions by removing carbon from air and burying, or sequestering, it in the ground. This approach sequesters carbon by preventing oil from ever getting out of the ground," said Jenkins.
Writing about the Yasuní-ITT Initiative in a new article in the scientific journal Biotropica, Jenkins, Matt Finer of Save America's Forests and Remi Moncel with the Climate and Energy Program of the World Resources Institute, say that a number of climate researchers, including NASA scientist James Hansen, have suggested that forgoing extraction of oil and gas reserves in remote or sensitive places could be an important piece to a larger global strategy designed to limit carbon emissions and that this Initiative "is the first real offer to do just that."
"Oil and gas concessions now cover vast swaths of the mega-diverse western Amazon," said Finer, lead author of Biotropica review article. "Ecuador´s revolutionary initiative is the first major government-led effort to buck this disturbing trend."
According to estimates of Ecuadorian officials cited in the article, preventing exploitation of the ITT oil fields, will keep 410 million metric tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
The authors note that use of a conservation strategy like that proposed by Ecuador would be particularly beneficial in areas that also offer great ecological value. The Yasuní National Park has such multiple benefits, they say, because it is one of the most biodiverse parts of the Amazon and within the territory of some of the world's last un-contacted indigenous peoples, the Tagaeri and Taromenane.
"Yasuní is an exceptional place in the world, biologically incredible, home to un-contacted peoples, and yet - perhaps tragically - full of oil," said Jenkins. "Society faces a test of what we value more, drilling for more oil, or preserving a cherished national park and the people who call it home."
Skeptics and Advocates
The Ecuadorian proposal has been lauded widely for its three-pronged effort to protect biodiversity, respect indigenous peoples' territory, and combat climate change. However, Jenkins, Finer and Moncel note that the Yasuní-ITT Initiative also has ardent skeptics.
For example, how to pay for the effort is in question. Ecuador, a country highly dependent on oil export revenues, seeks $350 million for each of the next 10 years in alternative revenue. Ecuador's intent is to sell certificates linked to the value of the unreleased carbon. This raises a number of technical questions, however, such as the possibility that the initiative would not result in a net global CO2 reduction if the certificates were traded in carbon markets.
"The best way to minimize the risk associated with the carbon bonds is to encourage supporters to make direct donations," said Remi Moncel of the World Resources Institute. "While less problematic from the point of view of environmental integrity, it is harder to raise money that way."
Germany appears to be a leading supporter of the Yasuní-ITT Initiative. Recent news reports indicate the German government may donate $50 to $70 million annually to the initiative if other countries also agree to provide support for the initiative.
Additional questions tackled in the study include why a national park is on the chopping block in the first place and what mechanisms are needed to prevent future Ecuadorian administrations from drilling the oil fields.
The authors conclude that the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, with its focus on generating alternative revenue, is a potentially precedent-setting advance in avoiding damaging oil and gas development in sensitive areas and an innovative way to address climate change.
"The climate conference of Copenhagen is only weeks away. What Ecuador has proposed is a good example of how each country can come up with home-grown, nationally relevant ideas to promote sustainable development," said Moncel.
Authors Finer and Jenkins recently published a companion study entitled, "Ecuador's Yasuní Biosphere Reserve: a brief modern history and conservation challenges." It is a concise history of the Yasuní region designed to help people better understand this complicated part of the world.That article appeared in Environmental Research Letters http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/1748-9326/4/3/034005
For more information on the ITT proposal, also see http://www.saveamericasforests.org/Yasuni/ITT-Links.htm
Lee Tune | Newswise Science News
Preservation of floodplains is flood protection
27.09.2017 | Technische Universität München
Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research