A new study puts some hard numbers on the climate impacts of California’s worsening wildfires, finding that the state’s 2020 blazes overwhelmed its recent emissions cuts.
Driving the news: The study, published in Environmental Pollution, is among the first to quantify the carbon emissions from California’s fires and the damage they are causing.
Zoom in: The 2020 fire season was record-setting, with 4.3 million acres burned. Five of the top 20 largest fires in state history occurred that year, including one so-called “gigafire” that burned more than 1 million acres.
What they’re saying: “Fire control policy can also be climate policy,” said study coauthor Amir Jina of the University of Chicago, via email.
Yes, but: While forests may eventually regrow, this takes decades and is not guaranteed to yield an equal or greater amount of carbon absorbed, Jina said.
- Plus, near-term emissions cuts are key to limiting the severity of global warming, Jina noted.