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.
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.
- Accounting of emissions connected to the production of biofuels (deforestation, loss of soil carbon, transport); ignoring their true impacts provides perverse incentives for non-sustainable biofuels.
- 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. Emissions from peatlands in Indonesia amount to at least 900Mtonnes of CO2 every year. 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) is mandated to improve its methodological guidance for wetlands. In this way emissions from wetlands can be reported in the near future with realistic emission values (in many cases much higher than before).
- There is increased recognition that emissions from (de)forested peatlands should be addressed in developing countries under the proposed REDD+ policy, however more attention is still needed.
- 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.