Letter to the Finnish Government:
Minister P. Lehtomäki
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
P.O.Box 35, FI-00023 GOVERNMENT
Wageningen, December 5, 2008
I am writing to you since Finland is a country member of Wetlands International, concerning the position of Finland over peat and renewable energy. We wish to share our perspectives and highlight some of the relevant scientific evidence.
Peat is formed over thousands of years. Recovery of peat exploitation is usually irreversible or if it can be reversed, it will take hundreds or even thousands of years to be replenished. Only about 10% of the carbon of biomass in peatswamps turns into peat. Of this remaining carbon; almost all remains safely stored in peatlands, and later forms as lignite and coal after thousands, possibly millions of years. These processes and timeline makes peat a fossil fuel;.not a (slow) renewable.
Climate change is significantly fueled by the destruction of peatlands. All over the world peatlands are being degraded as a result of unsustainable development of peatlands for mining, timber, overgrazing, biofuels and other agriculture. As a result, their enormous quantities of organic carbon are being released in the form of carbon dioxide; currently already an amount of 3000 Mt carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or equal to more than 10 percent of all fossil fuel emissions. Around 10% of this is caused by peat extraction in just a few countries. This process is ofen irreversible, or will last for thousands of years. All global carbon sequestration only amounts around 100 Mt a year.
Given this evidence, Wetlands International is astonished by the proposal by Finland to consider peat as renewable energy source at the Permanent Representatives Committee of the European Union. We ask you to refrain from promoting peat as slow renewable energy source into the Renewable Energy Directive of the European Union and offer you our expertise on peatland management.
Moreover, Finland is a member of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Your proposal of including peat as a slow renewable energy source is in contradiction to various of the Ramsar Resolutions , supported by your own government (see Annex).
Wetlands International offers our expertise on peat and peatlands and would welcome the opportunity for further dialogue on this matter. We have worked in a number of projects (Annex 2) in the Baltic region as well as in Russia and have good scientific networks in this region, who assist in building up knowledge on optimizing peatland management. Please do not hesitate to contact me in follow up to this letter. Furthermore, the contact details of my team in Poznan at the UNFCCC meeting currently are provided below.
Chief Executive Officer
Contact details in Poznan:
Wetlands International at the Poznan UN Conference on Climate Change
Stand A9, Opposite to Plenary Stork
Annex 1. Relevant Ramsar Resolutions
Finland is a member of the Ramsar Convention on wetlands. Your proposal of including peat as a slow renewable energy source and its exploitation is in conflict with the following resolutions, under scribed by your own government:
Resolution VIII.17 Global Action on Peatlands, which:
- recognises “the importance of peatlands to the maintenance of global diversity and for the storage of water and carbon, which constitute a function vital to the world's climate system”;
- “encourages Contracting Parties to give priority to the review of national laws, policies and incentives and to develop further national strategies for the wise use, conservation and management of peatlands”;
- states that: “The wise use management of peatlands, including restoration and rehabilitation, should be treated as a priority by all Contracting Parties that have peatland resources within their territory”
Recommendation 6.1 on Conservation of peatlands; recommending “that the "Wise Use Guidelines" of the Ramsar Convention, particularly in relation to development and implementation of national policies for wetland conservation (…) be fully applied by Contracting Parties for all their wetlands, including peatland types within their territories”.
Annex 2. Projects of Wetlands International
Wetlands International has implemented many projects related to peatland management over the years. Here are our most relevant examples:
Conservation of peatlands of Central Russia, Funded by the Netherlands Ministry of International Cooperation
Peat, biodiversity and climate change, funded by the United Nations Environment Programme, Global Environment Facility (UNEP-GEF) and multiple co-finance sources
Central Kalimantan Peatland Project (CKPP), funded by the Netherlands Ministry for International Cooperation (DGIS) www.ckpp.org
Study on mires in the Baltic ecoregion, funded by WWF-Germany.
Much more information on our projects and publications can be found on www.wetlands.org