While we are fighting for and crying about Yasuni: The Yasuni ITT has always been a proposal of “Payment for Ecosystem Services”

The Yasuni ITT has always been a proposal of “Payment for Ecosystem Services” (PES), and climate justice movements criticised since always that PES does not work.

The fact that Yasuni ITT was intended to earn money from carbon markets and/or PES was very clear since, back in 2009 and 2010 Ecuador boycotted ALBA positions against carbon markets in the UNFCCC, because of their interests in Yasuni ITT (ITT= plan to leave 920m-odd barrels of crude oil in Yasuni – the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) field underground in exchange for $3.6 billion). They also put it in UNFCCC negotiation texts as possibilities for new carbon markets, under the name “net avoided emissions”. Other attempts to win money from PES were done.

Well, what we see today is the clearest proof that Payment for Ecosystem Services DOES NOT WORK. So what are the steps employed here:

First you state you don’t want to destroy an ecosystem.
You declare that the ecosystem is worth more than the resources in it (and this case oil), and that thus “the world” will pay for it
Then, it becomes clear there is not enough money. (Which will be true for all projects where considerable amounts of ‘capitalist-appreciated resources’ are present)
Then, as there is not enough payment, you decide you must destroy the ecosystem anyway.

By just allowing to think along the lines of PES, and of comparing the monetary value of the ecosystem and the value of the resources, in one single move, all other policy instruments are removed. While those are the first issues that should be on the table.
– If we allow, nationally and globally, to drill in national parks , what is then the use of declaring national parks? There should be stricter policy rules related to national parks
– what about Free Prior and Informed Consent?
– What about the inherent rights of indigenous peoples that chose to live in isolation?

Those are policy questions, that should be considered before and beyond Payment for Ecosystem Services proposals. And the rules set, should apply to other parks and natural reserves as well, not just Yasuni. While we are fighting for and crying about Yasuni, how many other sites in the world are on similar attacks?
And how many sites will be ‘preserved’ by PES systems, up until the moment when resources are found in it?

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