TSU scientists took the initiative to include swamps in the calculation mechanisms for quotas under the Paris Agreement (formerly the Kyoto Protocol). The agreement aims to curb climate change caused by anthropogenic factors, primarily CO₂ emissions into the atmosphere. It is believed that the bulk of carbon dioxide is absorbed by forests. According to TSU scientists, an even greater role is played by the wetland landscapes that Russia is rich in, and taking them into account for quotas can bring major bonuses to Russia.
- Western Siberia is a unique region, - explains Sergey Kirpotin, director of the TSU Center for Excellence Bio-Clim-Land, one of the authors of the initiative. - It has 40% of the pristine swamp ecosystems of the world. For millennia, carbon has been bound and accumulated in the peat body of swamps, reducing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and thereby reducing the greenhouse effect. The swamps of Western Siberia are the largest natural storage of carbon on our planet, they are a kind of atmospheric cooler on a global level, and Big Vasyugan has no analog among them—it is the largest natural “air conditioning” on the planet’s land. We provide a serious environmental service to the whole world.
According to TSU scientists, despite their important climate-regulating role, swamps are not included in the calculation mechanisms of the Kyoto Protocol (now the Paris Agreement) quotas, which Russia signed.
Countries that are member of Protocol have a common but differentiated responsibility, as countries with different economic development have different opportunities in the fight against climate transformation. The Protocol obliges developed countries and countries with economies in transition to reduce current emissions following established quantitative obligations on the basis that some countries bear historical responsibility for the current level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Also, a greenhouse gas emission quota was established for each country. If a country contributes less than its allocated quota of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, it may sell the surplus to another country that needs to expand its emission quotas.
- The inclusion of wetlands in the quota mechanism could bring big bonuses to our country, - says Sergey Kirpotin. - Due to the marshes, which are the main sink of carbon, one of the main components of greenhouse gases, Russia could receive much bigger quotas and dispose of them at its discretion.
Russia has an undeniable advantage in wetland landscapes. Many countries have lost this resource. About 33 million hectares of the wetland has been drained on the planet, representing an area of almost six Vasyugan swamps. At the same time, in Europe, swamps were almost completely drained (for example, in Ireland, about 84%), and for a long time these lands were used either for farms or planting forests.
The restoration of degraded drained peatlands is attracting increasing attention in different parts of the world. Until recently, reclamation was carried out mainly to remediate biodiversity and disturbed ecological processes, but today the emphasis is on re-moistening carbon-rich soil to mitigate climate change.
TSU scientists prepared a draft resolution on the role of wetlands in biodiversity conservation and climate regulation and the need for their inclusion in the quota mechanisms of the Paris Agreement to strengthen Russia's geopolitical image. The draft document will be discussed on April 2-5 at the Second Scientific and Practical Meeting on Specially Protected Natural Areas, on Russian and international experience of involving natural heritage in the sustainable development of regions. The meeting will be attended by experts from Russia, the UK, France, Sweden, and Canada who are involved in the study of climate change. The approved draft resolution will be presented to the Russian government with a further prospect of discussion at a high international level.