Money for nothin’

Getting paid for something you don’t do sounds like a dream job. It’s one Ecuador may be taking on if enough richer countries agree with their proposal.

The small, South American country is willing to preserve a tropical rainforest that sits on reserves of 900 million barrels of petroleum if wealthy countries—those using the most energy—pay Ecuador $360 million a year to keep the oil in the ground, reports Reuters news agency. That’s about half of what the oil would be worth when sold. Leaving it in place would save an estimated 410 million tons of carbon emissions from being released. This particular site overlaps with Yasuni National Park, home to two indigenous tribes.

However, Ecuador is still very much in the oil business, producing about 450,000 barrels a day with designs on producing more elsewhere in the country. Their proposal falls in line with other developing countries that, at a recent United Nations climate change summit, said they should be compensated for efforts they take to reduce carbon emissions since rich countries consume most of the energy the poorer countries’ resources produce.