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Peatlands store 100 years of CO2 emissions

Peatlands store 100 years of carbon dioxide emissions

Peatlands store 100 years of CO2 emissions
But climate conference is ignoring emissions from peatland destruction
May 8, 2007

The UN Convention on Climate Change is putting global climate at risk by ignoring carbon dioxide emissions from the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands in Indonesia, charged Wetlands International, a Dutch environmental group that has highlighted the climate impact of land-use change in southeast Asia.

“As much as 2000 million tonnes of carbon dioxide are released annually from just the logged and drained peatlands of South-east Asia; 8% of all global emissions,” stated a release from Wetlands International. Large scale deep drainage takes place in order to establish palm oil and pulpwood plantations. Drainage of peatlands leads especially in the tropics to rapid decomposition of peat and to wild fires.”

Peatlands drained for an oil palm plantation in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Photo by Rhett A. Butler

“Globally, more carbon is stored in peat than the atmosphere currently contains, equivalent to 100 years of all current CO2 emissions. Stopping this problem is technically possible: by closing drainage canals and in this way restoring the hydrology,” it continued.

The group says that recent IPCC reports do not mention peatlands emissions at all and that their contribution to global emissions do not even appear in official CO2 emissions figures of countries.

“Without rapid action on peatlands, all other reduction measures will be overshadowed,” said Marcel Silvius of Wetlands International.