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Confidential report Indonesia: alarming emissions from peatland loss


Monday, 21 September 2009 - The Indonesian government has come forward with figures that confirm that the country is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses; for 80% due to deforestation and peatland loss. Wetlands International, the NGO that has been advocating the need to address peatland degradation strongly welcomes the acknowledgement by the Indonesian government of the issue.

The governmental report of the ‘National Council on Climate Change’ shows emissions of a magnitude of 2,3 Gton carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) per year; nearly all in the form of CO2. This is 8% of all global emissions. Even more alarming is the prediction of growth towards 3,6 Gton in 2030. Of all these emissions, 45% is coming from drained, degraded peatsoils and 35% from deforestation. The report of the Council also illustrates how cost-effective it is  to prevent or end peatland emissions; just a few euro per tonne CO2 .

So far national reporting of Indonesia to UNFCCC overlooked these emissions, similar to the reports of many other countries with major peatlands.

Peatland degradation in Southeast Asia

The ancient soil carbon stocks of peatswamps are rapidly lost in Southeast Asia due to drainage for logging, agriculture, palm oil and pulp plantations. Once drained, microbiological processes turn the organic carbon into the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2).

Recently, the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture issued a new decree  to allow further development of palm oil plantations in peatlands, which will even worsen the already severe emissions. Furthermore, the Minister of Forests also continues to issue permits to convert natural forests and peatlands to pulp wood plantations.

Marcel Silvius, Programme Manager Wetlands International: “Wetlands International welcomes the recognition by the Indonesian government of the impact of peatland degradation on greenhouse gas emissions. Now it is time to act and we therefore call on the Indonesian government to end policies that allow further deforestation and  reclamation of peatlands.

New climate treaty

Currently, peatland emissions are not addressed through  the policies of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). There is a high risk that current proposals for a UNFCCC mechanism to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries (REDD) may still exclude the emissions from the carbon rich peatsoils. This will cause a situation where countries may even receive support for forest plantations on drained peatlands that would actually emit huge amounts of carbon.

Alex Kaat, Wetlands International: “This Indonesian report illustrates how enormous the contribution of peatland loss to climate change is, but also how cheap it is to avoid these emissions. This illustrates the need to address peatland loss in a new climate treaty.”  

This release of Wetlands International is supported by

RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK, Humane Society International, The Wilderness Society

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