Peat market in Europe: evolution and climate relevance

O. Hirschler, B. Osterburg
In Europe, peat is an essential material used as a horticultural growing media constituent, and is also used as fuel for energy in some countries. According to the UNFCCC, peat extraction and use induce the emission of 25.3 million tons CO2-eq each year. For this reason, peat production and use trigger political debates in the context of growing climate concerns. Because of the trade of peat, climate policies can induce carbon leakage. Data on peat production, consumption and emissions are needed by politics and all actors concerned to address this challenge. This study describes the situation of peat production, markets and trade in Europe in average between 2012 and 2016 and compares it with the period 1995-1999. Based on national and international statistics, a balanced material flow model was built for every country with production, imports, exports and consumption. Results show that peat production amounts to 21.3 million tons per year in average between 2012 and 2016, concentrated in Northern Europe, with a majority for energy over other uses. Peat for fuel is produced in a few countries in which it is consumed. On the contrary, most of non-energy peat is traded, mostly within Europe. For the past 25 years, fuel consumption has declined, partially compensated by an increase in horticultural use. A growing part of the peat for horticultural use is traded, exported mostly from the Baltic States and Germany.
Hirschler, O. and Osterburg, B. (2021). Peat market in Europe: evolution and climate relevance. Acta Hortic. 1305, 357-364
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2021.1305.47
peat statistics, peat use, material flow, greenhouse gas emissions, horticulture peat, energy peat, carbon leakage

Acta Horticulturae