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    Fires Push CO2 Levels Beyond Kyoto Limits

    Australian scientist wants UN climate conference in Denmark to address threat of forest fires

    Bushfires that devastated areas of Australia’s Victoria state released millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide, exceeding emission limits set by the Kyoto Protocol. The Australian government told the United Nations last year that wildfires in 2003 released 190 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent, accounting of about a third of the nation’s total greenhouse gas emissions for the year.

    “With increasing concerns about rising CO2, rising temperatures and reduced rainfall in many of the forested areas, then we could well see much greater emissions from forest fires,” said Mark Adams of the University of Sydney.

    CO2 not accounted

    The CO2 created by the fires is not currently accounted for in Australia’s annual list of national greenhouse emissions. Australia wants to amend the rules on land use under the UN so only human activities are included in CO2 assesments within the climate change Kyoto Protocol.

    Firefighters continued to battle fires yesterday, which have killed more than 200 people and are the worst in the nation’s history.

    “Scientists worldwide are worried about fires and forests. I doesn’t matter if it’s the Artic tundra fires, or peat fires in Kalimantan or bushires in Australia,” said Adams, who wants forest fires on the agend at December’s climate change talks in Denmark, where a successor agreement to Kyoto is expected.

    By Andrew King
    with files from Reuters

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