A second achievement in Cancun is the text on the REDD mechanism on deforestation. This text also allows good opportunities for reducing the massive emissions from peatlands in developing countries like Indonesia. Wetlands International hopes that the Conference of Parties (COP) will approve both these texts tonight.
A major achievement for wetlands and their values
Enabling rewetting peatlands under the Kyoto Protocol is a massive incentive to restore degraded, drained peatswamps and halt carbon dioxide emissions from decomposing peatsoils. Drained peatlands are hotspots of emissions in the land use sector, totaling some 6% of all global CO2 emissions. Emissions in developed countries amount to almost 500Mtons of CO2 per year.
The draft decision text for the land use sector (LULUCF) under the Kyoto Protocol is now on the table to be approved by the COP. This enables developed countries to reduce emissions by rewetting peatlands as part of their efforts to achieving their national reduction targets.
This is a huge breakthrough and the first time since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol that a new land use accounting activity has been added. It’s also unique as it applies to rewetting drained peatlands in all land categories (forest land, cropland, grassland, wetlands and settlements and other lands).
As this activity is generally low cost with high effectiveness, it will lead in some countries to rapid actions, with also benefits for wetlands biodiversity. Likely the largest peatland rewetting programs will start in Iceland, Scotland and Belarus.
Wetlands International, supported by many other environmental groups, had strongly pushed for addressing the huge emissions from peatlands. Susanna Tol, representing Wetlands International in Cancun: “We are very happy that this opportunity has been created that enables emissions reductions from peatlands”.
The negotiations on LULUCF were tough, struggling over discussions on accounting rules for emissions from the forest sector. Despite this, Parties have recognized the significance of the mitigation potential of rewetting drained peatlands.
Addressing emissions from tropical peatlands under REDD
The negotiations on reducing emissions on deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD) also came to a draft decision text which enables to address the massive emissions from tropical peatlands. This would provide major opportunities to reduce peatland emissions from countries such as Indonesia which amount to 900 Mtons CO2 annually (peat drainage and peat fires included). Next year’s negotiations will provide more details on the extent to which these emissions can be addressed under REDD.
IPCC requested to improve methodological guidelines for peatlands
A draft decision by the technical body of the UNFCCC (SBSTA) includes a request to the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) to improve their methodological guidelines for emissions and removals from wetlands. They concluded that the science on wetlands has developed strongly. This conclusion is crucial for enabling countries to reduce their emissions through rewetting drained wetlands both under LULUCF and REDD.
Peatsoils are wetland soils consisting of large quantities of organic carbon. Drainage of these normally waterlogged soils exposes the organic carbon to the air. As a result this decomposes and turns into carbon dioxide (CO2).
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Tel. +31 650501917 (Alex Kaat, Wetlands International office)
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Video: Restoring the peatland forests in Indonesia