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Cost of European wildfires counted as UN pleas for climate investment

After another summer defined by devastating blazes analysis has revealed the estimated price tag for total losses at a time when global environmental organisations are again calling to speed up investment in mitigation and recovery efforts. 

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Taking place in New York this week, the United Nations two-day summit on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included a call for a new ‘rescue plan’ to help bring impact in-line with current targets. Based on current levels, none of the 17 SDGs are likely to be met by 2030, with blame levelled at Covid-19 and subsequent international crises. 

Emphasising the price of inaction, one of Europe’s biggest technical, automation, measurement, IT and accessories distributor has released shocking costs calculated from recent wildfires. In Greece, where blazes have been breaking out with alarming regularity this year, the total cost of losses in terms of land alone is believed to be €1.68billion after 161,000 hectares went up in flames. This is based on per-hectare-values used by the European Forest Fire Information System.  

Almost four times more than the annual average from 2004 to 2021, the Evros fire alone, which burnt for 16 days, is now the largest ever recorded in Europe. Spain ranked second, with 84,315 hectares lost at a price of €871million, while the total for the 23 worst affected countries across the region in 2023 comes to €4.1billion. This takes into account data from Italy, Portugal, France, Romania, Bulgaria, Ireland, Croatia, and Cyprus, among other nations. 

The numbers are particularly staggering when the cost of detection and prevention comes into consideration. Wildfire detection experts at Dryad believe that sensors could make a huge difference to the areas impacted, allowing authorities and emergency services to act before situations become out of control. Based on a price of €18.30 per unit, it is thought that the total area lost to wildfires across Europe could have been monitored within a network for a cost of around €48,000. 

More on monitoring and wildfires: 

Look up, off world: The satellite tech driving climate action

Greece burns, Antarctica thaws, UK Government ‘pays arsonists’

US insurance giants close California homeowner applications, wildfires blamed

Image: Steven Weeks

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