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Carbon emissions from French wildfires reached record levels

French wildfires hit record levels of carbon emissions.



Through Gloria Dickie

According to the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service of the European Union, the fires, which have burned a significant portion of the southwest Gironde region, released approximately 1 million metric tonnes of carbon from June to August (CAMS).

That roughly equates to the carbon dioxide emissions produced each year by 790,000 autos.

France has averaged about 300,000 tonnes of annual carbon emissions from fires during the past 20 years.

2003, which also happened to be the year that satellite monitoring started, is the only year that has even come close to this summer’s record for France. Then, from June to August, wildfires released around 650,000 metric tonnes of carbon due to the extreme summer heat and dry conditions.


According to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at CAMS, emissions data from southwest Europe provide a “reflection of the size and persistence of the flames.” This is related to the fact that local flora and trees are more flammable due to “long-standing drier and warmer circumstances,” he continued.

According to a research from CAMS published last month, Spain experienced record wildfire emissions during a mid-July heatwave. In contrast, emissions from Portugal’s wildfires were lower than in previous years.

According to data from the European Forest Fire Information System, more than 60,000 hectares (230 square miles) have burnt in France so far this year, which is six times the full-year average from 2006 to 2021.

In terms of worldwide wildfire emissions, France’s emissions are “pretty modest,” but the fires have a significant influence on local air quality, according to Parrington.

A massive smoke plume can be seen spreading into the Bay of Biscay in recent satellite pictures. Wildfires generate other pollutants, such as Particulate Matter 2.5, in addition to carbon, which can be harmful to human health.


Additionally, it has been discovered that smokey conditions can diminish

solar energy generation, in certain cases by over half. This is due to the possibility of airborne fire debris preventing solar energy from reaching panels.

A 40,000-strong solar panel project in the Gironde area of France powers nearly 13,000 homes.

(Editing by Philippa Fletcher; reporting by Gloria Dickie from London)