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ENVIRONMENT

France pledges to end chick culling in 2022

France will outlaw the culling of male chicks in the poultry industry in 2022 after years of protests from animal welfare activists, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie said on Sunday.

France pledges to end chick culling in 2022

Millions of male chicks are killed after hatching every year, most often by being shredded or gassed with carbon dioxide, because they do not produce eggs and do not grow as large as females.

Farmers say no practical and affordable ways exist to tell a chick’s sex in the egg at mass production facilities, and an EU directive from 2009 authorises shredding as long as it causes “immediate” death for chicks less than 72 hours old.

But opponents denounce unnecessary cruelty and point to improving techniques for finding males before they hatch.

“As of January 1, 2022, all poultry hatcheries will have to have installed or ordered machines letting them learn a chick’s sex in the egg,” Denormandie told the daily Le Parisien.

“2022 will be the year when shredding and gassing of male chicks ends in France,” he said, saying the law would prevent the killing of 50 million male chicks every year.

The state will provide a financial aid package of €10 million to help farmers buy the necessary equipment, he added.

The move comes after Germany said in January that it would also ban the controversial practice next year.

Switzerland banned the shredding of live chicks last year, but still allows them to be gassed.

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CLIMATE CRISIS

Scorching summer was France’s second hottest on record

Three heatwaves since June produced France's second-hottest summer since records began in 1900, the Météo France weather service said on Tuesday, warning that scorching temperatures will be increasingly common as the climate crisis intensifies.

Scorching summer was France's second hottest on record

With 33 days of extreme heat overall, average temperatures for June, July and August were 2.3C above normal for the period of 1991-2020.

It was surpassed only by the 2003 heatwave that caught much of France unprepared for prolonged scorching conditions, leading to nearly 15,000 heat-related deaths, mainly among the elderly.

Data is not yet available for heat-related deaths this summer, but it is likely to be significantly lower than 15,000 thanks to preventative measures taken by local and national authorities. 

Most experts attribute the rising temperatures to the climate crisis, with Météo France noting that over the past eight summers in France, six have been among the 10-hottest ever.

By 2050, “we expect that around half of summer seasons will be at comparable temperatures, if not higher,” even if greenhouse gas emissions are contained, the agency’s research director Samuel Morin said at a press conference.

The heat helped drive a series of wildfires across France this summer, in particular a huge blaze in the southwest that burned for more than a month and blackened 20,000 hectares. 

Unusually, wildfires also broke out even in the normally cooler north of the country, and in total an area five times the size of Paris burned over the summer. 

Adding to the misery was a record drought that required widespread limits on water use, with July the driest month since 1961 – many areas still have water restrictions in place.

MAP: Where in France are there water restrictions and what do they mean?

Forecasters have also warned that autumn storms around the Mediterranean – a regular event as air temperatures cool – will be unusually intense this year because of the very high summer temperatures. A storm that hit the island of Corsica in mid August claimed six lives. 

“The summer we’ve just been through is a powerful call to order,” Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Monday, laying out her priorities for an “ecological planning” programme to guide France’s efforts against climate change.

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