Europe facing record year for wildfire destruction: EU

Europe's blistering summer may not be over yet, but 2022 is already breaking records, with nearly 660,000 hectares ravaged since January, according to the EU's satellite monitoring service.

Firefighters douse smouldering rubbles in a burnt house in spain
Firefighters douse smouldering rubbles in a burnt house after a wildfire in the Valle del Arlanza, near Burgos in Spain on July 25, 2022. (Photo by CESAR MANSO / AFP)

And while countries on the Mediterranean have normally been the main seats of fires in Europe, this year, other countries are also suffering heavily.

Fires this year have forced people to flee their homes, destroyed buildings and burned forests in EU countries, including Austria, Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Some 659,541 hectares (1.6 million acres) have been destroyed so far, data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) showed, setting a record at this point in the year since data collection began in 2006.

Europe has suffered a series of heatwaves, forest fires and historic drought that experts say are being driven by human-induced climate change.

They warn more frequent and longer heatwaves are on the way.

The worst-affected country has been Spain, where fire has destroyed 244,924 hectares, according to EFFIS data.

The EFFIS uses satellite data from the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

The data comes after CAMS said Friday that 2022 was a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe and warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger”.

“2022 is already a record year, just below 2017,” EFFIS coordinator Jesus San-Miguel said. In 2017, 420,913 hectares had burned by August 13, rising to 988,087 hectares by the end of the year.

“The situation in terms of drought and extremely high temperatures has affected all of Europe this year and the overall situation in the region is worrying, while we are still in the middle of the fire season,” he said.

Since 2010, there had been a trend towards more fires in central and northern Europe, with fires in countries that “normally do not experience fires in their territory”, he added.

“The overall fire season in the EU is really driven mainly by countries in the Mediterranean region, except in years like this one, in which fires also happen in central and northern regions,” he added.


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Danish dairy giant wants to reward climate-friendly producers

Arla, Denmark’s largest dairy company and a major exporter, wants to reward farmers for low emissions under a new climate policy.

Danish dairy giant wants to reward climate-friendly producers

The company could spend 3.7 billion kroner per year rewarding its most climate-efficient suppliers, media Finans reports.

The measure is one of a number Arla plans to take to reduce its CO2 emissions and would make it the first dairy company in the world to implement a climate plan of this nature, according to Finans.

The plan would give the company several commercial opportunities, its CEO Peder Tuborgh told the media.

Milk will become more expensive for consumers in future but demand for sustainable products will increase, according to Tuborgh.

“This plan ensures that we fulfil our goal of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from farms and by a further 30 percent by 2030. But the plan also provides a lot of commercial opportunities for Arla and makes financial sense for our shareholders,” he said.

Under the proposal, cash rewards would be given to milk farmers as part of a point system. The most sustainable producers would score up to 100 points, which would give them up to 30 øre (0.3 kroner) more in payment per litre of milk.

Milk producers are positive about the plan according to Kjartan Poulsen, head of the national milk producers’ union, Landsforeningen af Danske Mælkeproducenter.

But it will not work unless consumers must be willing to pay more for milk, Poulsen warned.

“This must not end up as a plan that just moves a lot of money around between farms. A precondition for all of this is that customers want to pay what these efforts cost. Otherwise it won’t last for long,” he said.

The plan was scheduled to be presented by Arla on Friday. The Danish dairy firm is owned by over 9,000 Danish and foreign milk producers.