Peatland emissions find a place in the negotiating text

Peatland emissions find a place in the negotiating text

In her recent Lexis podcast Susanna Tol of Wetlands International explained the implications of their recent report on greenhouse gas emissions from degrading wetlands.  Crucially, when wetlands are drained and begin to oxidize they emit greenhouse gases, and those emissions continue year after year until all peat in the drained land has oxidized. 
The Wetlands International report provided for the first tiem details on peatland emissions  broken down to national and regional levels, highlighting areas with the highest emissions (Indonesia), and areas within nation states (eg Alaska as distinct from the ‘lower 48’) where peatland degradation is a particularly significant issue.  The report also identified the European Union as a bloc, and placed it second in the global league table for emissions from degrading wetlands.
At the climate change talks in Barcelona, November 2009, it seemed that the issue and the evidence may have been raised too late to be included in the negotiating text in Copenhagen.  However, when the working parties reported on their work, and presented draft texts on 15 -16 December, the Kyoto (KP) text included draft provisions recognizing the need to move towards compete coverage of managed land as part of accounting requirements for emissions from land use, land change use and forestry.
Wetlands management has also been included as a potential activity for the clean development mechanism (CDM), generating credits for the carbon market.
From the Long Term Cooperative Action (LCA) side, the revised text on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) has also been extended to include the concept of carbon sinks in a way that seems to open the door for counting sub-soils as well as carbon in trees and vegetation.
Speaking at the Bella Centre, Alex Kaat of Wetlands International considered the survival of wording that either specifically refers to wetlands management or opens up the definition of forests and forestry as a major step forward. However, the deal is far from closed.
Much of the wording, including the definition of and references to wetland management remain in square brackets. Unless positively approved that wording must fall away from any agreement (or suite of agreements) finalized on Friday 18 December,   
If lost at that stage the wording would be referred to the COP-MOP (in the UNFCCC jargon, the ‘Conference of the Parties serving as a Meeting of the Parties) for possible inclusion in the next round of negotiations.   The argument (and hopefully life) goes on when the Bella Centre reverts to the normal world of trade shows and expos.
Reader's may listen to Susanna Tol's podcast by clicking on the link in this site's Podcast Module.