Climate impacts of peat use in Europe

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Authors: 
Olivier Hirschler, Bernhard Osterburg
Book (published in): 
Posters IPS Convention Bremen 2019 Future Use of Peat and Substitutes in Horticulture
Venue: 
Bremen
Year: 
2019
Keywords: 
peat market, material-flow, greenhouse gases, consumption-based approach, climate change mitigation

Summary:

Abstract

Peat is an essential material as a horticultural growing media constituent in Europe, and is also used as fuel mostly for electricity production in some countries. Environmental issues concerning greenhouse gases emissions from peat trigger political questions in a context of growing climate concerns.

In order to minimize their climate impacts and concerned by the risk of carbon leakage, countries like Germany are facing a political choice between limitation of peat extraction and a peat use reduction strategy. This study analyses the situation of peat markets and trade in Europe. Based on national and international statistics, a balanced material-flow model is built for every country. In addition, based on CO2-eq emission factors for peat extraction and use, a comparison of climate impacts with the UNFCCC approach and a consumption-based approach is presented.

Results show that a large part of Europe depends on imports of peat for horticultural needs, mainly from the Baltic States. In these exporting countries, local peat use as fuel has been redirected towards export for horticultural purposes. For exporting and importing countries, the choice of the GHG-calculation approach is critical for the evaluation of climate impacts. Climate change mitigation of a restoration strategy on exploited peatlands in producer countries is shown to have limited potential compared to peat use reduction strategies in consumer countries.