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Deal or No Deal for Peatlands in Durban


By Susanna Tol, from the UN Climate Summit in Durban. For two weeks, I am at the climate summit in Durban, meeting governmental delegations from all over the world to get the emissions from wetland degradation addressed.


Wetlands International is in Durban to advocate for emissions reductions through the conservation of undisturbed peatlands as well as the rewetting of drained peat areas.

Unfortunately, the negotiations on the rules for emissions reductions from land use that causes peatland drainage, such as forestry and cropland management under the follow up of the Kyoto Protocol, is not looking positive at this point.


Strongly supported proposals on the table would allow countries to hide emissions from logging and only include voluntary accounting for emissions from other land uses that result in emissions. This includes the drainage of peat soils. Wetlands International campaigns for all significant sources of emissions to be mandatorily accounted for in the land use sector and no logging loopholes; therewith creating incentives to reduce emissions.


Did you know that peatlands are the world’s most concentrated and important reservoirs of terrestrial organic carbon? They are also a fast growing source of emissions. In fact, while peat soils, drained for forestry and agriculture, occur on a mere 0,3% of the global land surface, they are responsible for at least 6% of the global CO2 emissions. In developed countries this amounts to half a billion tonnes of CO2 each year, a level similar to that of forest management.


Mandatory accounting for emissions from peatlands will provide strong incentives for the conservation of undisturbed peatlands, as well as promote the rewetting of drained areas. Rewetting will also help prevent peat fires, which occur in drained peatsoils and add to further emissions. Peat soils are thus hotspots for emissions reductions. Our message to Ministers in Durban: if you can't make a deal which has environmental integrity, then don't make a deal on LULUCF here in Durban.



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