This year Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa terminated the Yasuní-ITT Initiative following the lack of international support. Ecuador proposed to keep 846 million barrels of “oil in the soil” under the Yasuní national park in exchange for compensation from the international community. However, in a country where oil revenues cover over one-third of the national budget, Ecuador’s government decided it could wait no longer for the international community to donate the funds.
Consequently, “Plan B” is now in motion, which will likely see the exploitation of three new oil blocks in the Yasuní national park, roughly 20% of Ecuador’s oil reserves, with an estimated value of $18 billion. At the heart of this shift in national policy is Ecuador’s massive $10 billion debt to China, which is to be repaid in oil. In this context of structural dependence between the two countries, Ecuador’s recent alliance with China at the UN climate change negotiations is perhaps not surprising, but it is of serious concern.