Much more attention is needed for greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands at the climate negotiations, according to Wetlands International. We will therefore put the spotlights on these carbon rich ecosystems at the Climate Conference in Lima, Peru next week, with the aim to get strong incentives for peatland conservation and restoration in a new climate agreement to be adopted in Paris next year.
Peatlands, hotspots in the land sector
An important part of the climate negotiations on the new climate agreement should cover the land sector, which causes about 24% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
Emissions from drained peatlands (for forestry and agriculture) constitute 5% of total global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, although drained peatlands only occupy 0.4% of the total land area in the world. This makes peatlands hotspots to reduce emissions for a number of developed and developing countries.
Emissions from peatlands for some countries higher than energy and cement
In fifteen countries the emissions from peatlands are much higher than from energy and cement, and in other countries they are comparable or at least significant compared to these sectors. Within agriculture peatlands should be viewed as one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, next to animal husbandry, rice cultivation and fertilizer application.
Solutions: ban on further drainage, rewetting and paludiculture
The highest priority is to place a ban on draining new peatlands and secondly to reduce emissions from already drained peatlands by rewetting. There is considerable experience with rewetting in various parts of the world, which can focus on the recovery of the ‘original’ ecosystem, but also on the maintenance of productive land use under wet conditions (paludiculture).
Position paper for Lima
Find out more in the position paper ‘Accounting for peatland hotspots in the new climate agreement’ which we prepared for the climate conference in Lima together with Greifswald University.
Adaptation value of wetlands
Oxidation of peatsoils as a result of drainage not only leads to emissions, but also to loss of water retention, loss of biodiversity and lowering of the soil surface, i.e. soil subsidence. Subsidence is the result of compaction, consolidation and loss of volume of the peat layer (carbon) due to oxidation and erosion. Peat soil subsidence happens all over the world where peatlands are drained, but in the tropics this process is very fast due to high temperatures and may result in increased flooding risks and possibly in production loss in agriculture and silviculture in low lying peatlands. See a recent brochure with case study of Sarawak.
Reducing disaster risk with restoration and wise use of mangroves and other wetlands
Wetlands International runs innovative programs to reduce disaster risk by restoration and wise use of mangrove belts and other wetlands on a landscape level such as in river deltas. More information is available from our staff at our booth in Lima (#125) and on our website: Reducing disaster risk and Mangroves for coastal resilience.