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Wildfires in Spain, Morocco produce record-breaking carbon emissions

Wildfires in Spain, Morocco produce record-breaking carbon emissions



Kate Abnett is the author of

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, was in Brussels on Since 2003, wildfires in Spain and Morocco have released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than at any time since, according to the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Forest fires have ravaged parts of southern Europe and northern Africa, claiming the lives of hundreds, displacing tens of thousands, and spewing toxic pollution and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

It has been more than any other year since Copernicus’ dataset began in 2003 that fires in Spain produced 1.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions from June 17 through July 17.


In June-July 2012, Spain released 1.1 million tons of carbon dioxide, which was more than double the previous record set in June-July 2012 by more than 30 fires.

Spain’s emissions are already higher than they have been in the last 20 years, senior scientist Mark Parrington of Copernicus said.

A new record of 480,000 tonnes of carbon emissions from wildfires in June-July this year has also been set, the highest June-July emissions in the last two decades.

The greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane are included in the data collected by Copernicus, as are all other forms of carbon dioxide emitted by fires.


Climate change is making fires more likely to spread quickly and burn longer, increasing the amount of greenhouse gases and air pollutants that heat up the planet and harm people’s hearts and lungs.

It is possible for the air quality to degrade and affect tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people depending on the direction the winds are blowing.

There were 1.76 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted by wildfires worldwide in 2021, a year that saw widespread, long-lasting blazes in places like Siberia, the US, and the Mediterranean.

Wildfire emissions in France are also on pace to set new records very soon. This year’s June-July carbon emissions from fires across the country were the highest since June-July 2003, when 344,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide were emitted. Forest fire emissions have been lower in other countries, such as Portugal, than in recent years.


Reporting by Kate Abnett and editing by John Chalmers and Bernadette Baum)