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Closing the emissions gap with peatlands


Doha, Qatar – Wetlands International urges action to mitigate CO2 emissions from peatlands, as thousands of delegates flock to the Middle East to negotiate global policies on climate change. Peatland restoration and conservation action, stimulated by UNFCCC incentives, could significantly contribute to closing the so-called “emissions gap”.


The annual conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place against a backdrop of mounting evidence that time is running out to avert dangerous climate change. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has recently highlighted1 the large gap between current greenhouse gas emissions levels and reduction commitments, and the emissions reductions needed to effectively limit global warming to less than 2°C.
Another recent report by the World Bank2 argues that the world is on the way to a 4°C increase in average temperatures, and that the consequences will be ”cataclysmic”, ranging from rising sea levels to threatened food security.

High mitigation potential of peatlands

Jane Madgwick, CEO of Wetlands International, said: “The signs are clear: mitigation is no longer an option, it is an urgent necessity. Conserving and rehabilitating peatlands and other organic soils must be prioritised by the UNFCCC as a quick and cost-efficient way of delivering enormous reductions in CO2 emissions”.
Peatlands cover a mere 3% of the world’s surface, but they store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests. When drained and degraded, these fragile ecosystems release that carbon into the atmosphere as CO2.
Degrading peatlands cover only 0.3% of the Earth’s surface, but they are responsible for almost 6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Mitigating these emissions would make a significant contribution to closing the emissions gap.

More attention needed for peatlands

Marcel Silvius, Head of the Climate Programme at Wetlands International said: “Organic soils and peatlands must receive far greater attention in UNFCCC initiatives such as REDD+3 or the Clean Development Mechanism. Parties must ensure that the land use and forestry sector is addressed as having great potential both to contribute to and mitigate climate change”.
Wetlands International advocates the inclusion of specific rules and incentives to ensure that organic soils and peatlands are properly addressed in all UNFCCC mechanisms. In particular, it advocates that monitoring, reporting and verifying of REDD+ activities properly account for the emissions from peat soils; that the CDM mechanism add new eligible activities “Avoidance of drainage” and “Rewetting”; and that Parties move towards land based accounting of emissions, ensuring that all terrestrial carbon pools are accounted for.
Wetlands International will attend the 18th Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the UNFCCC which will take place in Doha, Qatar from the 26th of November to the 7th of December.

More information:

Brochure: ‘Saving peatlands – For People, Global Climate & biodiversity
Report: ‘Peatlands – guidance for climate change mitigation by conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use


Marcel Silvius, Head of Programme and Strategy, Wetlands and Climate:
Vera Coelho, Communications and Advocacy Officer:, +31 624851139

Notes to Editors:

1.    UNEP’s “The Emissions Gap Report 2012” can be found at:
2.    The World Bank report “Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided” can be found at:
3.    REDD+ is a UN initiative to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.
4.    Wetlands International is the only global not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation and restoration of wetlands. We are deeply concerned about the loss and deterioration of wetlands such as lakes, marshes and rivers. Our vision is a world where wetlands are treasured and nurtured for their beauty, the life they support and the resources they provide.

Read more in our media briefing.



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