Cancún, Mexico. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), science now allows to estimate greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands. This breakthrough was presented yesterday by the IPCC at the UN climate conference (UNFCCC) in Cancun (Mexico). This conclusion is crucial for allowing countries to reduce their emissions through rewetting drained wetlands. A decision on that will possibly be taken in Cancun.
The new knowledge enables IPCC to improve their methodological guidance for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions from wetlands significantly. In the current IPCC guidelines (2006), considerable gaps exist with regard to emissions of wetlands, and particularly with respect to rewetting of drained peatlands. Peatlands drained for practices such as agriculture or forestry are significant sources of emissions, which can be reduced by rewetting (increasing the water table).
Lack of methodological guidance was until now a main reason to keep rewetting of drained wetlands outside the Kyoto Protocol. Improved guidance based on recent research may now facilitate its inclusion from 2013 onwards. Improved IPCC guidance will furthermore make accounting for emissions from agriculture and forestry on drained peatlands more accurate.
It is now up to this week’s meeting of SBSTA, the body that provides scientific and technical guidance to the UN Climate Convention, to request IPCC to improve the guidelines.
Globally peatlands cause some 6% of the global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. Rewetting peatlands has large potential to reduce these emissions. Accounting for emissions from peatland drainage under the Kyoto Protocol will furthermore discourage developed countries to drain their peatlands for the production of biofuels. The emissions associated with peat drainage generally exceed the emissions savings from replacing fossil fuels with these biofuels.
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