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UN-FCCC should address peatland loss


This week, the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) is meeting in Bonn to prepare the agenda for the UN-FCCC summit in Bali, December 2007. Wetlands International demands the SBSTA to put the problem of peatland loss on the agenda. Our organisation will present the facts and solutions in an official side-event.

As much as 2000 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released annually from just the logged and drained peatlands of South-east Asia; 8% of all global emissions (research by Delft Hydraulics and Wetlands International). Large scale deep drainage takes place in order to establish palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Drainage of peatlands leads especially in the tropics to rapid decomposition of peat and to wild fires.
Globally, more carbon is stored in peat than the atmosphere currently contains, equivalent to 100 years of all current CO2 emissions. Stopping this problem is technically possible: by closing drainage canals and in this way restoring the hydrology.

Till recently, even the magnitude of this problem was unknown. The recent IPCC reports do not mention these emissions at all. Emissions from peatlands were never included in the official CO2 emissions figures of countries. Global measures to stop this climate disaster do not exists. The UN-FCCC Clean Development Mechanism does not accept programmes to prevent emissions from peatlands by restoring the hydrology.

The next summit of the UN Convention on Climate Change will be held in Bali, Indonesia. Indonesia is also the most notorious country regarding peatland destruction; the country is annually facing thousands of peat fires, lasting for months. Plans to convert peatland forests into palm oil and pulp wood plantations will worsen the problem.
Wetlands International, a global NGO, calls for the UN-FCCC summit to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem and agree to count restoration of the hydrology of peatlands as an emission reduction of a country. Without rapid action on peatlands, all other reduction measures will be overshadowed.

Marcel Silvius
Wetlands International

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Alex Kaat
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