Joan Martinez Alier writes about a proposal wherein Ecuador will leave oil in the ground in return for compensation. The initiative has been recognised by the Clinton Global Initiative and is attracting interest from a variety of individuals, organisations and governments.
The intriguing bit is the claim that not extracting oil will reduce carbon emissions. Only if the oil from this particular oil field could not be replaced from anywhere else would it be the case. That is manifestly not the case. World consumption of oil doesn’t decline because one particular oil field is not being drilled. If the proposal is accepted I am afraid it is not going to make an iota of difference to world oil consumption and thence to carbon emissions and climate change.
Two more issues arise.
One, the commitment has to be honoured in perpetuity. So how will the legal agreement be structured and enforced?
Two, it raises the interesting possibility of strategic proposal submission - claiming to forsake projects which don't make sense anyway to attract funding – e.g. individuals (I won’t fly to London if you compensate me), organisations (we won’t hold our annual bash, compensate us) and governments (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge???).