THE UNITED Nations children’s division, UNICEF has handed out a stark warning to the Spanish government regarding the future effects of climate change on the nation’s younger generation.
“Spain’s nine million children will inherit an uninhabitable country if action is not taken quickly,” is UNICEF’s dramatic warning to ministers.
A report issued last week has urged Spain to take emergency measures to protect its young from the effects of climate change, warning that the western Mediterranean country is one of Europe’s most at-risk nations because of its being such a dry terrain.
Spain has one of the most diverse climates in Europe owing to it’s size and vast temperature differences between north and South.
Whilst the Northern provinces are lush, with rivers, forests and abundant Winter rainfall, much of the South could be classed as desert, which becomes an ever growing problem owing to continuing deforestation.
The ongoing Southern drought coupled with the habitual intense summer heat is expected to be exacerbated over the coming decades by global warming.
Even periods of heavy prolonged rain such as the week long storms parts of Southern Spain have experienced over the last few months, including the worst Winter weather for 85 years in Murcia, do not ease the situation.
Reservoirs are still well below capacity and when rain does fall it is often too heavy, causing devastation itself as it runs on top of the parched ground instead of penetrating the surface, flooding towns, villages and causing problems for whole communities.
The Spanish UNICEF Committee’s managing director Javier Martos and childhood policies leader Maite Pacheco presented the organisation’s report, ‘The impact of climate change on childhood in Spain’, warning that global warming is ‘a growing and unprecedented threat’ for youngsters.
It has called for the nation’s youngest residents to be the central priority in the Spanish government’s future Climate Change Law.
Spain is the most vulnerable country in Europe to global warming, and if the international community does not make real efforts in reducing emissions in the next few years, temperatures will rise by up to 5ºC by the middle of the 21st century,” Sra Pacheco and Sr Martos said.
“If this happens, 80% of mainland Spain and Portugal will be desert.
“The effects of global warming will transform the economy and physionomy of the country, leaving the population open to more freezing cold snaps and heatwaves, extreme temperatures – hot and cold – rising sea levels, lack of drinking water and greater air pollution.”
“We really need to think about what kind of country we’re leaving, and want to leave, to our children,” Pacheco concludes.