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WILDFIRES

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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FOOD

Denmark to ban caged egg production by 2035

Denmark is to follow a rule banning new cage egg farms from next year with a total ban on the farming method by 2035.

Denmark to ban caged egg production by 2035

In a statement, the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries said that is would ban new cage egg farms from next year.

A full ban will come into place following a 12-year transitional period to “ensure proper conversion of production”, the ministry said.

“We wanted to phase out cage eggs as soon as possible. But we have a genuine responsibility to producers of cage eggs,” the agriculture minister, Rasmus Prehn, told news wire Ritzau.

The 12-year transition will avoid instances of expropriation by giving farmers time to fund and make the switch, according to Prehn.

Supermarket Lidl chose to remove cage eggs from its shelves as long ago as 2015, according to broadcaster DR. Other supermarket chains including Coop and Dansk Supermarked have since followed that decision, meaning most supermarkets in Denmark no longer stock eggs from hens in cages.

The EU banned battery cages in 2012, but hens can still be kept in larger cages, termed “enriched” or “furnished” cages, for the production of eggs, in line with the EU directive that banned battery production.

Production of cage eggs in Denmark has fallen from 61 percent of total egg production in 2010 to 13 percent in 2021, according to DR.

That is an underestimate in comparison to the ministry press release, which states that seven producers of cage eggs in Denmark were responsible for 17 percent of Denmark’s total egg production last year.

While most supermarkets have stopped selling cage eggs, they are still often used by restaurants, catering businesses, food factories and pharmaceutical companies, the ministry states.

“Cage hens live – as the name suggests – their whole lives in small cages with limited space to flap their wings. Denmark is in many ways a forefront country within agriculture, and this must also be the case when it comes to animal welfare,” Prehn said in the press statement.

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