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.
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