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Wildfires in 2021 Spewed CO₂ Equal to Half of EU's Annual Emissions

Blazes in Siberia broke emissions records, while others were well-above normal, according to Copernicus

A firefighter reacts as a house burns near Athens

A firefighter reacts as a house burns near Athens

Photographer: VALERIE GACHE/AFP

Wildfires from Greece to Siberia this year weren’t just devastating for forests and economic livelihoods, they also emitted an estimated 1.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, according to the European Union’s satellite program Copernicus.

That’s roughly equivalent to half the EU’s total annual emissions, according to a report released this week. The worst-hit regions, North America and Siberia, were responsible for the bulk of pollution. The Sakha Republic in northeast Russia recorded the highest summer-time total since the dataset started in 2003.