Submission on the future work of the Ad-hoc working group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP)

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Courtesy of Wetlands International

During its first session held in Bonn from 17.25 May 2012, the ADP agreed on its Bureau, adopted its agenda and initiated two work streams, one addressing matters related to paragraphs 2.6 of decision 1/CP.17 and another addressing matters related to paragraphs 7.8 of that same decision.

IGO’s and NGOs were invited to contribute to the thinking on how the ADP can advance its work, in light of the ADP’s agenda, under both work streams in Bangkok and for the remainder of 2012 by 27 July 2012.

Wetlands International welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the thinking on the organisation of future work of the ADP.

Decision 1/CP.17 (paragraphs 2-6) mandates the Durban Platform to negotiate, by 2015, a new protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention applicable to all Parties, to enter into force as of 2020. It is essential to agree a clear plan of action before the end of 2012 to guide work in a manner conducive to reaching a successful agreement by the assigned date. Decision 1/CP.17 (paragraphs 7-8) mandates the Durban Platform to launch a work plan on enhancing mitigation ambition to identify and to explore options for a range of actions with a view to ensuring the highest possible mitigation efforts by all Parties.

As we gain clarity on the scale of the gap between the current emissions reductions pledges and the necessary emissions reduction to keep global climate change below 2 degrees C, it becomes clear that a key component of the 2015 agreement must consist of a global commitment to reduce emissions, commensurate with the objective of keeping climate change below 2/1.5 degrees C. This global emissions reduction target must then be accompanied by national commitments that cumulatively deliver the necessary global cuts.

This submission stresses the need for enhanced action with respect to the protection and restoration of natural ecosystems in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This must be one of the priorities to be addressed in order to effectively deliver on the mandate of the ADP as per Decision 1/CP.17.

The degradation of natural ecosystems (including their conversion to plantations) significantly reduces their carbon storage and sequestration capacity. The loss of natural ecosystems strongly contributes to the release of greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, an overarching policy must be adopted and implemented with the highest priority to protect and restore natural ecosystems. In this submission, we highlight the mitigation potential of peatlands (organic soils) as this is our expertise and because they play a critical role in climate regulation.

On only 3% of the world’s land surface, peatlands hold 30 percent (550 GT carbon) of all soil carbon, an amount equivalent to 75% of all atmospheric carbon and twice the carbon stock in the entire forest biomass of the world. The majority of the carbon in peatlands is stored below ground, in the peat soil. This carbon is released to the atmosphere when the peatland is drained, when vegetation is (partly or totally) removed, and when peat fires occur. When drained, deforested or degraded, peatlands release the peat carbon much faster than it has been sequestered (Couwenberg et al. 2010, Dommain et al. 2010, 2011). Emissions from drained peatsoils are disproportionally large. Drained peatlands, covering a mere 0.3 percent of the global land surface, are responsible for some 6 percent of total global anthropogenic CO2 emissions (Joosten 2010). Well-functioning ecosystems such as peatlands have greater resilience to climate change which will aid in their natural adaptation.

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