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Recent wildfires undo Turkey’s work to reduce CO2 emissions: expert

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Recent wildfires that have wreaked havoc in Turkey’s southern and southwestern regions have not only eaten up the country’s forestland but also canceled out the country’s emission reduction gains for the last year, according to an environmental expert, the Hürriyet daily reported on Monday.

Huge wildfires ravaged Turkey in multiple spots near the country’s southern and southwestern coastal holiday resorts for approximately two weeks starting on July 28, claiming nine lives, killing hundreds of farm animals and damaging houses and fields.

These forest fires have also increased Turkey’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

Consuming a total of 1,750,000 acres of forestland according to data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), these wildfires have also released 15 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, as calculated by Dr. Nic Surawski, a senior lecturer in environmental engineering at the University of Technology in Sydney.

Emissions from the recent wildfires have completely canceled out the gains the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) reported to the United Nations in April 2021.

TurkStat’s report indicated that the total annual CO2 emissions in Turkey had declined by 15.7 million tons compared to the previous year.

Dr. Surawski further underlined that the forest fires also produced “more dangerous” greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party government have faced widespread criticism over the poor response and inadequate preparedness for the large-scale wildfires, which destroyed large swathes of forestland.

As residents lost homes and livestock, anger turned toward the government, which admitted that it did not have a usable firefighting aircraft fleet. Opposition parties accused the government of failing to procure firefighting planes and instead spending money on construction projects that they say are harmful to the environment.

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