Ecuador’s Yasuni-itt initiative: a critical Assessment1

Contribution of the Yasuni-ITT Initiative to avoided deforestation

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Contribution of the Yasuni-ITT Initiative to avoided deforestation

It has been argued that mitigation from no extracting fossil fuel reserves may be prevented by an international leakage, given that a reduction in extraction from one country can be easily replaced by increasing extraction from other countries.

It is true that, in the short term, the oil not supplied by one producer may be replaced by another, if the internationally installed capacity allows the substitution10. Yet, over the long term, the reduction in CO2 emissions will be real because oil is a non-renewable natural resource and therefore finite. Estimates of world oil reserves show that, at the current rate of extraction, world oil production will last for only 40 years11. In this period, the non-extraction of oil reserves is a net contribution. Even in the short term, recent experience has shown that reductions in the supply of oil have not been easily compensated by the additional extraction of other oil-producing countries, as it happened in the oil crisis of the 1970s and during the recent Libyan conflict.
Furthermore, the Yasuní Initiative envisages that the financial resources to be obtained will be invested in new projects that will absorb or reduce additional CO2 emissions, in programs for deforestation prevention, reforestation and the development of clean energy sources. The joint potential for emission reduction of these projects is estimated to reach at least 820 million tonnes. The 407 million tonnes from the non-extraction of oil are added to this figure.

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