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Peatlands in UN Climate policies

Since 2005 we have stressed the importance of preventing further carbon emissions from peat soils at the UN Climate Conference (UNFCCC). We aim to include carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the degradation and loss of peatlands in a new climate treaty that is currently under negotiation.

Action Description:

Global hotspots for climate change mitigation

We believe that peat soils should be treated as hotspots for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Peatlands occupy a relatively small land area but are very important climate regulators. They store twice as much carbon as the world’s entire forest biomass and emit large amounts of carbon when they are drained (2000 Mtonnes of CO2 per year).

Peatlands possess enormous climate change mitigation potential, yet they are being drained and logged at an alarming rate, especially the peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia, which – without rapid action – will be decimated by 2020. 

Our input to the climate negotiations

We provide country delegations with high-level data on peatland emissions, which we have gathered from years of scientific research. Furthermore, our publications and policy briefs address key issues in the formulation of the climate treaty.

We aim for:

  • Mandatory accounting for developed countries of their greenhouse gas emissions from all land uses, including soil emissions, such as those resulting from peatland degradation. Only in this way will there be an incentive to reduce emissions through the protection, rehabilitation and better management of peatlands.
  • Conservation and rehabilitation of peat swamp forests treated as a hotspot in the new REDD+ mechanism (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation).
  • Countries to reduce emissions from non-forested peatlands as Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMA's). They have high mitigation potential similar to forested peatlands.

National level support to reduce emissions from peatlands

The most urgent action is needed in Southeast Asia to save the last remaining peat swamp forests and rehabilitate the drained areas. We provided inputs to the Indonesian national strategy to reduce emissions based on our scientific and technical expertise. One example is our Peatland Atlas of Indonesia.

What we achieved

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has developed methodological guidance for wetlands which is now included in the IPCC200 Guidelines. In this way emissions from wetlands can be reported with more realistic emission figures. 
  •  Investment in emissions reductions from tropical peatlands is already reflected in the Norway-Indonesia Partnership, support from the US and Australia to Indonesia, and in reports by the World Bank and the Readiness Plan of Indonesia.


Policy documents


REDD+ submission on MRV and drivers Feb 2012
LULUCF the ‘No Loopholes’ Environmental Integrity Package for Ministers
Peatlands in Indonesia National REDD+ Strategy
Submission to SBSTA on REDD and peatlands - Sept 2011
Policy recommendations to the SBSTA on peatlands and REDD - June 2011
Briefing: biofuels and indirect land-use change (ILUC)
Communiqué Wetlands Matter
Policy Brief to AWG-LCA13 with regard to REDD+


Action Partners: