U.N. Environmental Extortion

Ecuador, through the U.N., is bullying Western countries for eco-cash. There is a large (9,820 km), lush, beautifully pristine rainforest in Ecuador called Yasuni National Park. The rainforest is particularly large and dense, and it boasts a spectacular quality and quantity of species across the natural spectrum. According to the U.N., in this "untouched" land, there is approximately "846 million barrels of crude lying in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinti (ITT) field."

Under the noble rubric of protecting the environment, native habitat, and local, indigenous peoples, as well as "preventing the discharge into the atmosphere of more than 400 million metric tons of carbon which would result from the burning of fossil fuels if oil were extracted," Ecuador has devised a plan through the U.N. Development Group (UNDP) to receive remuneration for its good deeds. There are few subtler ways to blatantly extort the world than under the guise of the U.N. Contributions are rarely directly funded, therefore the 2009 budget -- 22% of which is funded by U.S. taxpayers -- rarely gets dissected, scrutinized, and exhibited. Who wants to read about their constant stupidity and inefficiency? But this new fiasco is worth learning. The Yasuni-ITT Initiative, co-opted by the UNDP, requires 50% of the foregone value of the reserves to be paid by a collaboration of industrialized countries directly to Ecuador...or they will move forward with drilling. At a rough estimate of $76 a barrel, that's almost $32 billion due Ecuador for the pleasure of not becoming an oil producer.

Germany was gung-ho about the project from the outset in 2007, a part of its diplomatic bread-and-circuses act to the green community, but has since become uneasy with the idea. Ecuador is mounting pressure on Germany to go through with the initiative and pay up their donation, as German politicians are becoming exponentially suspicious of the domino effect. "One of our main questions is whether this would be setting a precedent for other governments," BMZ spokesman Sebastian Lesch told Deutsche Welle. "Our objective is to pursue active policies for active countries, not pay them to do nothing." Apparently the U.N. believes otherwise: the producing world should finance the non-producing of the rest of the untouched natural world.

Very simply put, the Ecuadorian extortionists are in effect saying, "we have a lot of oil, in a very desirable locale. If you don't pay us, the locale is toast." Another problematic point for Germany is the fact no guarantees exist that future Ecuadorian governments won't renege on their promises and pump anyway.

According to Duetsche Welle,

The government has set a deadline of the end of 2011 for the collection of the first installment of funds. If the 75 million euros have not been raised by that date, the project will be deemed a failure and the path will be cleared for oil extraction.  

If the future of the world is financially encumbered by extorting apocalyptic environmentalism, it will be a very odd one -- the gun held to our heads using our own bullets. If the Yasuni-ITT Initiative gains traction through its U.N. broker -- an inept, corrupt, and indefatigably bureaucratic organization -- the U.N. will continue to mandate the rest of the world to siphon carbonesque dollars to third-world rainforest countries with a penchant for the autocratic and despotic.

I commend the Ecuadorians. Why not use the West's sense of environmental guilt against them, at their own behest, through their own organizations? It seems like a commonsensical thing to do on their behalf. Ecuador's President Correa, in July of 2010, enacted "reforms":

To a hydrocarbons law that aims to expropriate foreign company operations unless they sign service contracts increasing state control of the industry. Correa reminded oil companies that if they don't abide by the state's policies, they will have their fields nationalized and will be forced from the country.

Does this remind anyone of another oil-producing South American country's leader? Ecuador wins big either way. If the initiative falls on its face, which I predict it must, they still drill and make billions, with the help of foreign oil companies, who will be forced to accept disproportionately small margins or become nationalized. If the initiative succeeds, Ecuador garners world attention and environmental kudos, and it will forge a new path for those lucky to have ecosystems deemed worthy of protection by the environmentalists. This category will inevitably become broader as the environmental discussion, and the potential money at stake, progresses.

Should the U.S. possibly contemplate a Yellowstone-Initiative? I cannot conceive why not. But wouldn't we simply be paying ourselves to not pump through the U.N. (remember the 22% ratio of annual giving)? Therein lies the rub, along with the inconvenient fact that we still need oil to run our economy.