Half the world’s peatland emissions come from Southeast Asia where a combination of deforestation, deep drainage and high temperatures boosts peat decomposition and the incidence of fires (Joosten et al., 2012; Biancalani et al., 2014). For example, in 2015, Indonesia experienced, “the year’s worst environmental disaster” (The Guardian, 2015) which, following an exceptionally dry year brought on by a particularly strong El Niño weather system, saw emissions from peat fires alone reach between 1.5 to 1.75 GtCO2e, more than the entire total annual emissions of Japan for that year (World Bank, 2015; Field et al., 2016; UNFCCC, 2017). This trend continues globally with large and uncontrollable fires every dry season.
While representing only 3 percent of the world’s land, drained peatlands emit nearly five percent of global CO2 (Wetlands International & Greifswald Mire Centre, 2016). Peatland fires add over the long run an average of 0.5–0.6 GtCO2e to this amount, leading to total peatland emissions of over 2 GtCO2e.8
From collection: Smoke on Water
Nieves Lopez Izquierdo