Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 20, 2008
L. American activist calls for oil to be left in the ground
Wealthy countries like Canada are “too materialistic” and “consume too many minerals and resources.”
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Keep oil, gas and coal in the ground, including the Alberta tarsands.
That’s the message OilWatch South America coordinator Ivonne Yanez brought to KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
Yanez is currently on a cross-Canada speaking tour that included participation in the KAIROS forum on the Alberta tarsands in Calgary Oct. 3-5.
The Ecuadorian activist who also founded Ecological Action, an environmental group in her country, said in a telephone interview that urgent action must be taken to fight climate change, preserve the forest and protect the human rights of indigenous peoples.
One way, she said, is to choose not to exploit oil and other fossil fuel reserves.
In Ecuador, Yasuni National Park sits on 9,820 square km of some of the most biologically diverse land in the world. It is one of the last conserved Amazonian regions near Peru, she said.
Her government has proposed that northern countries compensate Ecuador $350 million a year over 10 years for not exploiting its oil reserves.
“This is a measurable, concrete way to fight climate change,” Yanez said, noting that the compensation comes to about half of what the country would expect to gain through oil production.
She noted the national park is also the ancestral land of indigenous peoples.
Time is short, because the government is under immense pressure to exploit the oil resources, she said.
Northern countries that must reduce their emissions should pay this compensation because they have to recognize their position as carbon and C02 debtors, she said.
Several governments and parliaments have indicated they support this proposal, she said, but more commitments are needed.
The Ecuadorian government has set a December deadline.
“There are countries that are making these important decisions re: climate change while in Canada you are raising your C02 emissions because of the tarsands exploitation,” she said.
“Maybe Canada has to make a decision not to continue the tarsands exploitation,” she said, noting that wealthy countries like Canada are “too materialistic” and “consume too many minerals and resources.”
“People can still be happy and live well on 40 per cent of what you are consuming in terms of things and wasted materials,” she said. “It is important first of all to think this way of life is not sustainable in the point of view of global warming.”
“If you are living well, other people are suffering because of climate change,” she said.
“People need to think a little more about other people.”
She described her recommendations as “happy un-growth” and “happy decreasement.”
More with less
“You can still have a good life with less things,” she said. People use air-conditioners unnecessarily and could heat their homes “a little bit less.”
She pointed out oil supplies will only last another 50 to 80 years. “We need to think now about the future civil society.”
KAIROS, whose members include the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Anglican Church, the United Church and other religious organizations, is not calling for a tarsands moratorium, according to communications spokesperson Adiat Junaid.
Junaid said in an email the issue is under study and consultation with the KAIROS community and partners. The board will make a decision after this process, probably next spring.
However, one KAIROS member organization is calling for a temporary halt to further Canada’s oilsands development.
In an Oct. 3 open letter to candidates in the federal election, the executive director of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace urged politicians to “put a moratorium on oilsands development in order to put in place a comprehensive plan to implement the Kyoto Protocol and post-Kyoto obligations.”