IUCN urges UK government to account for CO2 emissions from peatlands
Edinburgh, October 5th 2012. Wetlands International supports the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s request to the government of the United Kingdom to include Wetland Drainage and Rewetting in their national accounting of greenhouse gas emissions.
Countries who are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol
and who wish to participate in a second commitment period (starting in 2013) must quickly decide which human activities they will account for when calculating their progress towards greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
Wetlands, and in particular peatlands
, can be an enormous source of GHG emissions when drained and degraded. It is currently estimated that peatlands contribute to around 6% of global CO2 emissions. The EU is the second largest emitter in the world, and other developed countries are also in the top-20 of peatland CO2-emitting countries.
According to a UNFCCC decision made in Durban
last year, countries are obliged to include some activities in their national accounting (such as Forest Management), but other activities remain voluntary. This is the case with Wetland Drainage and Rewetting
– meaning that each Kyoto country must individually decide whether or not they wish to count emissions and removals of CO2 from this activity against their overall emissions reduction targets.
Including Wetlands Drainage and Rewetting in national GHG accounting means that countries can no longer ignore the substantial emissions from peatlands, thus providing an incentive for the conservation of pristine wetland areas and to the rewetting and rehabilitation of degraded peatlands. In countries like the UK, rehabilitating peatlands could significantly contribute to achieving national emissions reduction targets, with associated benefits for biodiversity, water regulation functions and other ecosystem services.
Wetlands International advocates the inclusion of all land use sectors in national accounting, including Wetland Drainage and Rewetting. In order to guide decision-makers in making use of available incentives for climate change mitigation through peatland conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use, Wetlands International, FAO and other partners have produced a report
and a decision support tree
outlining options applicable to peatland nations across the globe.