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Moving closer to addressing wetland loss at the UN climate conference, Bonn


The large emissions from degrading peatsoils are currently not addressed at the climate conference. Wetlands International is present at the new session of the UN climate summit in Bonn to advocate for steps towards incentives for countries to protect and restore wetlands in order to reduce carbon emissions.

Major meeting after Copenhagen

During the coming two weeks, a major UN climate meeting takes place in Bonn. For the first time since Copenhagen, country delegations will negotiate within the framework of the technical meeting of the UN Climate Convention (SBSTA). On the agenda is amongst others the development of a new version of the current Kyoto Protocol, so that at least developed countries can proceed with steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Accounting for wetland emissions and removals

One of the issues on the table since 2008 for commitments under a new Kyoto Protocol is a decision whether developed countries should and may account for emissions and emission reductions from wetlands. Thus far there is no possibility and no obligation to account for these emissions.

Recent reports on the magnitude of emissions from peatsoils by Wetlands International have convinced many Contracting Parties that it is not sufficient to focus on emissions from fossil fuels and from deforestation only. There is widespread acknowledgement to also include wetland drainage and rewetting in national climate change accounting under the Kyoto Protocol, but if and when this can be addressed depends on political will.

Wetlands International calls the Parties of the UNFCCC to take their responsibility and prevent further carbon losses from these carbon rich soils. A positive decision will create incentives for restoration and improved management of wetlands, especially peatlands as part of national strategies for emission reductions.

The immense carbon stocks of organic (peat) soils have long been ignored. With the increased attention for reducing emissions from deforestation, the moment is here to address also the huge wetland carbon stocks in the ground.” says Susanna Tol who follows the negotiations on behalf of Wetlands International.

Besides safeguarding the carbon in wetlands, better protection and restoration of wetlands is vital for biodiversity and water security.

Addressing a global problem

Globally anthropogenic emissions from organic (peat) soils in wetlands amount to 2 Gton of CO2 per year (in total 6% of all global anthropogenic CO2 emissions), of which at least 500 Mton is emitted from peatland drainage in developed countries that signed the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon stocks in peat soils are twice the carbon stock in global forest biomass. This was demonstrated by Wetlands International and Greifswald University in the Global Peatland CO2 Picture, a report presented to the UNFCCC in November 2009. With 174 Mton CO2 per year, the EU is the second largest emitter of CO2 from drained peatlands worldwide.

A concrete step towards curbing the emissions from tropical peatlands in South-east Asia is reflected in a partnership agreement between Norway and Indonesia announced last week.


For more information:

Wetlands International, Susanna Tol

Tel: 0318-660933 / In Bonn: 06-22624702

Press contact

Communications and Advocacy Department