EU is 2nd largest source of peat emissions after Indonesia, finds global peat survey

EU is 2nd largest source of peat emissions after Indonesia, finds global peat survey

4 November 2009

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Europe — The EU is the world’s second largest source of carbon dioxide emissions from peatlands drainage, after Indonesia, reports the first country-by-country assessment of peat stocks.

The study, conducted by Wetlands International and Greifswald University, found that drainage of wetlands for agriculture, forestry and peat extraction causes 1.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Emissions from fires and peat mining (for horticulture and fuel) amount to another 700,000 million tons per year.

Emissions from peatlands degradation are highest in Indonesia at 500 million tons per year. Indonesia’s peatlands are being rapidly converted for agriculture, especially oil palm plantations.

The EU — led by Finland (50 million tons), Germany (32 million tons), and Poland (24 million tons) — is the second largest source of peatland emissions, due largely to agriculture and forestry.

Russia (160 million tons) is third due to peat fires, extraction, and drainage for forestry and agriculture. The United States is fourth.

The assessment, which estimates that global peatlands lock up more than 1.4 trillion tons of carbon, found the peat emissions have increased by more than fifth since 1990. Most of the increase has occurred in developing countries, with the largest growth occurring in Indonesia, China, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

The report shows that in 15 countries emissions due to peatland degradation are higher than emissions from fossil fuels use. For example, Iceland’s emissions from peatlands degradation are nearly 800 percent of its fossil fuels emissions. Uganda (739 percent), Mongolia (480 percent), Papua New Guinea (433 percent), Guyana (265 percent), and Indonesia (150 percent) also have high emissions from peat to fossil fuel.

The report notes that peatland emissions are not currently addressed under the Kyoto climate treaty and concludes that reducing peatlands degradation is one of the most cost-effective ways to help mitigate climate change.

“Peatland rewetting may globally reduce greenhouse gas emissions [by] several hundred million tons of carbon dioxide per year,” the report states.

Developing countries could be among the biggest beneficiaries under a climate agreement that compensates reductions in emissions from peatlands degradation.

The Global Peatland CO2 Picture

CHARTS/TABLES: Peat emissions by country

Emissions from degrading peat 2008 (million tons CO2)

Country/area  2008 peat emissions Indonesia  500Russia 161China  77USA 67Finland  50Malaysia  48Mongolia  45Belarus  41Germany  32Poland  24Russia Asian part  22Uganda  20Papua New Guinea  20Iceland  18Sweden  15Brazil  12United Kingdom  10Estonia  10Ireland  8Lithuania  6Netherlands  6Norway  6Vietnam  5Ukraine  5Zambia  5Japan  5Canada  5

Country rank by peat area (square kilometers)
 Country/area  Peat area Russia – Asian part  1176280Canada  1133926Indonesia  265500Russia – European part  199410USA (Alaska)  131990USA (lower 48)  91819Finland  79429Sweden  65623Papua New Guinea  59922Brazil  54730Peru  49991China  33499Sudan  29910Norway  29685Malaysia  26685Mongolia  26291Belarus  22352United Kingdom  17113Germany  16668Congo  15999Zambia  15410Uganda  13640Iceland  13366DR Congo  11955Poland  11528

Country rank by peat carbon stock 2008 (million tons of carbon)
 Country  Peat carbon stock Canada  154972Russia Asian part  117607Indonesia  54016Russia European part  19948USA (Alaska)  15499USA (lower 48)  13668Papua New Guinea  5983Brazil  5440Malaysia  5431Finland  5294Sweden  5000China  3224Norway  2230Germany  2018Venezuela  1984Sudan  1980United Kingdom  1745Congo  1600Mexico  1483Uganda  1321Belarus  1305Dem. Republic of the Congo  1190Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas  1151Ireland  1130Chile  1124

The original study can be downloaded as PDF at:

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