Spain’s prime minister warned lawmakers on Wednesday that the southern European country’s acute drought has become one of its major long-term concerns.
“The Spanish government and I know that the debate around drought will be one of the central political and regional debates of our country for years to come,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told the Madrid-based parliament.
The territorial tensions between regions over water, which Sanchez referred to, are already being seen in protests and disputes over water between farmers and ecologists.
Three years of scanty rainfall and high temperatures officially plunged Spain into a prolonged drought last month.
The National Weather Service said 2022 was on track to be the warmest year ever recorded, with the average daily temperature rising above 59 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time since records began in 1961. , but especially in summer when the average temperature has increased by 1.6 degrees.
Spanish farmers warn of ‘irreversible’ crop loss due to drought
Experts and officials say climate change caused by the release of greenhouse gases is causing the Mediterranean region to warm faster than the global average.
And there are no signs of improving the situation in Spain in the coming weeks.
This has led to water restrictions in the driest regions. Regional authorities in northeastern Catalonia said this week that Barcelona and a wider surrounding region that is home to some 6 million people could enter a drought “emergency” by September unless forecasts are proved wrong.
The capacity of the reservoirs that provide water to northern Catalonia has shrunk by 27%. Only in southern Andalusia the reservoirs associated with the Guadalquivir river basin have a capacity worse than 26%.
Spanish lawmakers consider plan to increase irrigation in one of Europe’s most prized wetlands
Andalusia and other agricultural regions are bearing the brunt of the drought as farmers lose their crops.
Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture met in Madrid on Wednesday with agricultural unions and local officials involved in irrigation management. Agriculture Minister Luis Planas asked the European Union to temporarily relax common agricultural rules for Spain’s farmers in order to accelerate financial support for the sector.
Andres Gongora, a representative of the COAG farmers and breeders association, said his group has urged the ministry to take emergency measures.
“(The government) should issue an emergency order so that it can adopt measures to address the disastrous situation that many farmers and breeders are facing,” he said. “This year, unfortunately, there will be no green shoots, but rather a lot of red numbers.”
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Spain’s forests are also suffering as firefighters battle fires that are not typically seen until the hottest months.
Sanchez, a socialist leader who faces general elections in December, said his government’s priority was “to help heal our rivers, improve our water purification and cleaning systems and water reuse, and our There is a huge investment to be made in digitizing water management.”
“It is clearly our responsibility, our duty, because of the challenge we are facing with climate change and water stress,” Sanchez said.
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