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One-fifth of Swedish Greenhouse Gas Emissions Not Acknowledged

Former peat lands that have been drained to create areas for forestry and agriculture contribute a corresponding 20 per cent of Sweden’s total emissions of greenhouse gases. According to researchers at the University of Gothenburg, this problem is largely invisible.

Although drained areas for the purposes of forestry and agriculture cover only a few per cent of Sweden’s total surface area, they release enormous amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

‘Greenhouse gas emissions from former peat lands make up about one-fifth of Sweden’s total reported emissions of greenhouse gases. This is roughly the same amount as the country’s entire industrial sector emits through energy consumption,’ says Åsa Kasimir Klemedtsson, researcher at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Gothenburg.

Sweden’s reporting of greenhouse gas emissions to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol is seemingly very precise, but by combining the contributions from drained peat lands with the CO2 uptake by forests into a net figure, these emissions are in effect hidden.

‘As the amount of carbon stored in forests is increasing, the emissions from drained peat lands become invisible. And this may explain why measures to reduce these emissions haven’t been discussed to the extent they deserve,’ says Kasimir Klemedtsson.

The second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol started this year, with new rules for how greenhouse gas emissions from drained peat lands can be reported. This has brought attention to the issue. This autumn, the UN’s climate panel, IPCC, will publish the fifth evaluation report, and also new guidelines for how greenhouse gas emissions due to draining of wetlands should be calculated.

A workshop is currently being planned to shed light on the problem.

‘The purpose of the workshop is to bring attention to and discuss emissions of greenhouse gases from drained wetlands. We want to describe the amounts emitted, how they are reported and which actions could help reduce them. We also want to illuminate what authorities and business actors are doing to limit the emissions, and what else needs to be done,’ says Kasimir Klemedtsson.

The workshop is hosted by the Gothenburg Atmospheric Science Centre (GAC), which is a centre for atmospheric research in the Gothenburg region, and BECC (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate), which is a collaboration between Lund University and the University of Gothenburg.

Time and venue: Tuesday 29 October 11 am – 4 pm at Chalmerska huset in central Gothenburg)

View the programme here:

Register here:

Åsa Kasimir Klemedtsson, Researcher, Department of Earth Sciences
Tel.: +46 (0)31 786 1960; e-mail:

Torsten Arpi | idw
Further information:

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