• People who are very vocal on environmental issues won’t necessarily put their money where their mouth is. When people’s actions do not match with what they say it is known as their revealed preference.
  • The Ecuadorian government pledged that they would refrain from drilling the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini (ITT) oil field located under the Yasuni National Park indefinitely if they received half of the estimated value of the reserve. It appears that conservationists backed this approach.
  • This figure requested from national and international contributors came to $3.6bn but the trust fund set up to receive donations collected only $13m in deposits. As the public’s revealed preference indicates that the public were unwilling to pay to prevent drilling, the government have recently stated that they will go ahead and drill the oil field.
  • A parallel can be drawn with the more positive example of the abolished Australian Climate Council, who raised AU$ 1m in donations, allowing the organisation to continue to run as an NGO.

Implications and next steps:  This initiative is opposite to the polluter pays concept and relies on conservationists to pay for preservation. Perhaps this might become a means for large companies to skirt environmental protest by offering those who oppose their developments the opportunity to halt action through financial means, though the asking price may be unrealistic. When such large sums of money are requested there is a need for support from very wealthy individuals and/or a high level of publicity, but if this support is not received it appears that smaller players are unlikely to be able to match asking prices allowing development to proceed.

Forbes: http://tinyurl.com/lvt29sg, ABC Online: http://tinyurl.com/n8ssds4

Image credit: (C) Frontierofficial @ flickr.com