Bonn, Germany. The enormous carbon dioxide emissions from degraded peatlands have finally become an integral part of the UNFCCC agenda. An impressive list of countries have pleaded for inclusion of these so far ignored emissions in national emission accounting in developed countries (Annex I).
This major breakthrough is an outcome of the UNFCCC meeting in Bonn (till April 8). So far, emissions from the degradation of the organic soils in peatlands due to drainage have been excluded from accounting of emissions as it was not on anyone’s radar before. These enormous emissions amount in Annex 1 countries to about 900 Mton carbon dioxide and globally in the range between 2 to 3 Gt/CO2 annually.
Although they only cover 3% of the global land surface, their degradation contributes to 7-11% of all global carbon dioxide emissions. These emissions reflect the alarming loss of one of the worlds biggest terrestrial carbon stores.
Now, more and more countries see the importance of addressing these emissions and are also aware of the huge and cost-effective potential of restoring drained peatlands in order to save the organic carbon stores. Inclusion of peatland emissions in accounting rules will create a huge momentum for restoring and protecting these wetlands.
A clear indication of the increasing attention for addressing peat-emissions is provided by the recent submissions of Australia, Belarus, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland demanding wetland restoration and emissions from wetland loss as an additional activity for accounting under a new Kyoto Protocol and by Tuvalu proposing a new system to account for all biomass carbon loss including from peat. These explicit proposals are backed by several other countries.
These proposals are discussed at the UN Bonn Climate Change Talks that currently take place. This meeting prepares a new climate treaty for Copenhagen in December of this year. For the future of the world’s wetlands, the attention for emissions caused by wetland loss is very hopeful.
For more information:
Wetlands International at the Bonn UNFCCC meeting in Bonn Including presentations)
Fact book for UN-FCCC policies on peat carbon emissions
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