The Role of Law
Edited by Ed Couzens, Alexander Paterson, Sophie Riley and Yanti Fristikawati
Chapter 3: For peat’s sake: environmental law amidst the bogs
The issue raised in this chapter is that of the danger to, and the need for protection of, peat. The chapter considers the vexed issue of preserving the Earth’s peat reserves, which, it is argued, are central to any successful global efforts to cap the rise in Earth’s temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius. The nature and importance of and threats posed to peat stocks are then outlined, highlighting that there are available alternatives for virtually every use of peat, that there is no way effectively to use peat ‘sustainably’, and that remaining peat should accordingly be preserved in parks or other protected areas, and left intact underground, wherever it is already buried or will be covered with coastal waters as sea levels rise. The chapter then proceeds to survey the historic role of law in preserving peat, concluding that environmental law still largely ignores peat. This leads to the conclusion that there is a compelling argument for environmental policy-makers to take a fresh look at peat and forge workable legal frameworks to preserve it. With a view to providing necessary future guidance to policy-makers in this regard, the chapter traverses the international legal frameworks of relevance to peat, distils key legal principles underlining any future legal framework governing peat, and finally, through a case study of Indonesia, distils a set of elements that should be considered in drafting new peat legislation, whether by local, national or regional authorities. The experiences of numerous countries are considered, with some intensive case studies being offered. Issues of financing and international cooperation are considered before suggestions are made as to how appropriate national legislation might be framed.
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