They voted to leave the oil in the ground

Ecuador’s Yasuni Forest referendum set the world a wonderful new example

Ecuador did an amazing thing that nobody else has done before. On 20 August they held a referendum on whether to stop drilling for oil in part of the Amazon rainforest, and they voted to stop. This is wonderful news for the climate - and therefore for everyone in the world now and for generations to come, and every living thing on earth. It’s wonderful news for the indigenous people and wildlife in that part of the forest too as oil spills and other damage should come to an end.

It was a national referendum, with a very clear majority by 59% to 41%. The state-owned oil company now has a year to stop drilling, seal up the oil wells and leave - although perhaps not surprisingly, they’re likely to bring a court challenge first.

This was thanks to many years of hard work and faithful campaigning. We don’t (yet) have a Renew Our World national expression in Ecuador, but we do have friends there and many of them have been working and praying for this for a long time. 

Back in 2007 Ecuador’s government said they didn’t want to exploit the oil in the rainforest, and asked wealthier countries to compensate them for not exploiting it. But only a tiny amount of money was promised, so they went ahead and started drilling in 2013. Since then this has been profitable, and oil is Ecuador’s biggest export, so stopping the oil flowing from this particular oil field is a major decision. 

It wasn’t the only vote that day. This was the day of the first round of the presidential elections, and there was another referendum.  This was a smaller one for voters in Quito, the capital region, and they voted against mining for copper and gold in the Choco, in order to preserve this biodiverse part of Ecuador’s highlands. This is welcome news too. 

You can read more at Climate Home News and the Yes to Yasuni campaign.

This is a superb example for Ecuador to set the world, and a great sign of hope for us all. Let us pray for many more votes like this around Latin America and all over the world, and let us work to make them happen. Where would you like to be next?

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