Peatland Conservation through International Climate Policy Mechanisms

Incentivising peatland conservation, rehabilitation and sustainable use under the UNFCCC mechanisms


Peatlands constitute the most important terrestrial carbon reservoirs. While peat soils only cover 3% of the global land area, due to extensive drainage of large areas for forestry, agriculture and peat extraction they currently account for ca. 5% of all anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Until recently, these facts have been completely neglected by the UNFCCC and the Kyoto Protocol. Most countries have ignored greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands and have chosen not to implement any of the available, generally voluntary, activities for emission reduction.


During the International Climate Summit in Durban in 2011 the participating nations agreed on introducing a new activity, “Wetland drainage and restoration,” to increase the focus on peatlands as hotspots of greenhouse gas emissions during the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period, starting in 2013. Based on the limited information on peatland emissions many countries are hesitant about implementing this activity. Further UNFCCC mechanisms to offset emissions from peatlands include NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions), Joint Implementation (JI) and possibly the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). The standards needed for measuring, reporting and control (MRV) in peatlands are being developed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In addition, voluntary carbon markets offer incentives for emission reduction and international peatland and climate protection activities.


The project’s goal is to supply information about reduction of emissions from peatlands to decision makers, UNFCCC delegations and scientists from the IPCC working groups, and to emphasize additional modes of utilization through peatland protection, restoration and sustainable use. It will offer practical solutions to address the concerns of countries with technical deficits regarding MRV and questions about the offsetting process. Thus, the project will create capacities in peatland-rich countries that can serve as an important contribution toward worldwide emission reduction. It will offer an incentive for nations listed in Appendix I of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from peatlands by selecting the activity “Wetland drainage and restoration” during the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period, and it will help developing countries to reduce emissions with the aid of other UNFCCC mechanisms, such as CDM or NAMAs, or in voluntary carbon markets.


The project is supported through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GiZ) GmbH (German Society for International Cooperation) under the International Initiative for Climate Protection (Internationalen Klimaschutzinitiative; IKI) of the Federal Minstry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety (Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit; BMU). It is conducted as a joint venture by the University of Greifswald, Wetlands International (WI; Netherlands), Climate Focus (Netherlands) and the Michael Succow Foundation.




Project coordination:

Jan Peters, email: jan.peters(at)