World not ready for mega-fires set to increase, warns UN report
“Even with the most ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will experience a dramatic increase in the frequency of conditions conducive to extreme fires,” the report said.
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The world is not prepared for exceptional fires like those that ravaged Australia in 2019-2020, and whose number will increase by the end of the century, warns the UN in a report (in English) posted Wednesday 23 February.
Fires, natural, accidental or provoked, are not directly caused by global warming, but the increasingly frequent and intense episodes of droughts and heat waves create particularly favorable conditions for their development, warns this report from the Environment and the GRID-Arendal Center.
“Even with the most ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will experience a dramatic increase in the frequency of conditions conducive to extreme fires.”, says the document. If the world manages to limit warming to +2°C compared to the pre-industrial era, the main objective of the Paris agreement, the number of catastrophic fire episodes should increase between 9% and 14% d 2030, between 20% and 33% by 2050, and between 31% and 52% by 2100.
However, these figures only concern the most exceptional fires, which in theory only occur today once every 100 years. Although the report does not provide estimates for the rest of the fires, “less extreme episodes are likely to increase as much”at nevertheless explained one of the authors, Andrew Sullivan.
But if eliminating the risk of fires is impossible, it can on the other hand be reduced. According to the report, the costs of the damage caused by the fires are far higher than the investments to fight them. An imbalance that must be corrected by investing in prevention: reducing activities that can cause fires to start, better managing dead plants left on the ground, clearing brush around homes, modifying land use planning, etc.