Russia is on track to have a record year in terms of the area covered by wildfires, the local branch of environmental group Greenpeace said on August 12.
Nearly 5.5 million hectares are ablaze, mostly in Siberia, with smoke clouds covering more than 5 million square kilometers, more than the size of the European Union, the UN’s authoritative World Meteorological Organization said in a tweet on August 11.
A state of emergency has been declared in four Siberian regions as the fires rage into a third month. The Guardian reported that, since June, Russia has suffered the most from fires in the Arctic zone, which also includes Alaska, Greenland, and Canada.
A combined 50 megatons of carbon dioxide was released in June and 79 megatons of carbon dioxide in July -- equal to the exhaust fumes from 36 million cars.
More than 13.1 million hectares have burned, including 4.3 million hectares of taiga forest in Siberia.
Greenpeace said the record-breaking fires make a “tremendous contribution to climate change” as millions of people breathe the smoke and wild animals lose their habitat.