Either Give Ecuador $3.7 Billion, Or Let It Burn Down The Rainforest

rainforest fire burning

Two years ago, the President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, told the world he’d burn down the rainforest if he didn’t get billions of dollars.

There’s 850 million barrels of oil sitting underneath the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador. Tearing down the rainforest, and extracting that oil would give Ecuador $5.7 billion.

That’s 10% of the country’s GDP, money that could help it fight poverty.

The loss wouldn’t be all that bad for Ecuador. It only gets around $5 million annually from tourists, and the damage to the environment would only amount to $56 million.

So far, Correa hasn’t fulfilled his promise, but Kevin Gallagher, at the Guardian reminds Correa that it’s not a bad idea. He encourages Correa to get between $2.6 billion and $3.7 billion from the developed world.

Here’s why:

What ups the ante is climate change. The carbon dioxide emissions from extracting and burning the oil would be about 375 million tons, and emissions from deforestation would be 172 million – a total of 547 millions tons. The World Bank has estimated the abatement cost for carbon dioxide at $14 to $20 per ton (similar to the range in the pending Waxman-Markey legislation in the US Congress). The cost to the world to abate these emissions will be between $1.7bn and $2.4bn for the extraction and burning, and $909m for deforestation, for a total between $2.6bn and $3.7bn.

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