EU doubles firefighting fleet in preparation for climate change impacts

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU said it is doubling its aerial firefighting fleet for the summer of 2023, citing challenges such as increasing forest fires due to the climate crisis.

“The last few years have seen our greatest challenges so far”, Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said, adding that in the last decade there had been on average a 350 percent increase in requests for assistance from its RescEU programme.

“Disasters are occurring with increased frequency and intensity”, Lenarcic added, referring to wildfire risks in areas that have not previously been vulnerable and floods in Belgium, Germany and Italy.

For the coming wildfire season the RescEU firefighting aircraft reserve will include 24 planes and four helicopters from 10 member states, the EU said.

In addition, 11 member states will send almost 450 firefighters who will be based in France, Greece and Portugal.

Southern Europe is bracing for a summer of ferocious drought, with some regions already suffering water shortages and farmers expecting their worst yields in decades.

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