Portugal will be the second most affected European country by forest fires in 2022

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Portugal was the second worst hit European country by forest fires in 2022, with 153 fires burning an area of 949 square kilometers (km2), according to a report published today by the European Environment Agency.

Spain, with a burnt area of 2,754 km2 and 208 fires of 30 hectares or more, has the worst record. France comes third, with 74 forest fires destroying an area of 465 km2.

The study published today estimates that the Iberian peninsula will experience a “sharp increase” in the number of days with a high fire risk, in a climate change scenario with high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

In Portugal and Spain, the number of people living near wilderness areas exposed to high or extreme fire risk for at least 10 days a year would increase by 15 million (24%) by the end of the century under the 3°C global warming scenario.

The agency also notes that the 2022 forest fire season was the second worst since 2000, with over 5,000 km2 (twice the size of Luxembourg) burnt during the summer months (June, July and August) and a record area of Natura2000 nature protection sites affected.

Losses caused by fires last year reached at least two billion euros in Europe, and CO2 emissions in the European Union (EU) and the UK between June 1 and August 31, 2022 are estimated at 6.4 megatons – the highest figure since 2007.

Extreme weather and climate-related events caused an estimated 560 billion euros in economic losses in the EU between 1980 and 2021, of which only 170 billion euros (30%) were covered by insurance.

Over the same period, almost 195,000 deaths were caused by floods, storms, heat waves, cold waves, forest fires and landslides in the EU.

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