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Madrileños Worry About Climate Change After Hot Summer and Fall

Some spaniards wore summer clothes into late October because of record temperatures

After experiencing a summer of brutal heat waves and record high temperatures in the months of October and November, citizens of Spain are expressing their concerns about the climate change crisis and whether they believe the government is doing enough to combat it.

“Global warming is evident. This year, the summer was hotter than ever before, and it has taken much longer to cool off,” Luis Garcia, 66, said.

For every degree of global warming, Spain sees 1.5 degrees and is therefore experiencing a heightened effect of global warming, especially in inland areas, according to Euronews. This is a cause for concern for many Spaniards who have never experienced temperatures this high in their lives. Spain’s meteorological agency AEMET reported that the start of October has been the warmest yet with nearly 40% of weather stations recording maximum temperatures above 32 degrees Celsius.

It’s not normal that in October we are wearing shorts. The contrast in temperature is honestly worrying.

— Alba Gutierrez Ruiz, 21

Due to this shared concern surrounding the severity of global warming Spain is facing right now, many people have increased their individual efforts to be sustainable and combat the issue the best they can.

“I always recycle, I bring my own bag to the grocery store, I avoid buying produce packed in plastic, and also conserve water, it’s a precious resource,” Arupa Herrera, 22, said.

While individual efforts are important, many people feel global warming is bigger than the efforts they can make on their own.

“We all do what we can, but in reality, the policies have to change in order for the issue to,” Joseria Perez Flores, 24, said.

Spain is expected to reach 2℃ of warming within the next 20 years unless immediate and severe cuts are made to global greenhouse gas emissions. On a global scale, the vast majority of these emissions are caused by companies and corporations rather than individuals according to the National Resources Defense council. In Spain specifically, the transport sector is the largest greenhouse gas emitter as of 2019, accounting for 27 % of emissions, according to the European Parliament.

“Some things are done but the change needs to be more radical. I believe in Spain and in Europe in general, we don’t realize that we are the last generation that can do something. If we fail, everything is lost,” Garcia said.

Many Spaniards commented that the actions being taken by the government are just simply not enough. Spain implemented its first major climate and energy law in 2021, which aims to cut emissions by at least 23% and increase use of renewable energy sources by 42% — all by 2030, according to the European Parliament. But Spaniards say these changes have not been sufficient in preventing the continuous rise of temperatures Spain is experiencing.

“The policies are never sufficient. The issue is advancing faster than we are working at it,” Herrera said.

Spaniards expressed a fear for what their futures will look like without such changes.

“I worry that in a few years it will be too unbearable to leave the house in the summer,” Yelica Espinosa, 22, said.

Much of Spanish culture takes place outdoors, whether that be sitting in a plaza sharing tapas and drinks or simply walking from one place to another. That means changes in climate affect the ability of Spaniards to live their normal lives.

“I believe that the whole world needs to come together and really think about what climate change can mean for our daily lives,” Ruiz, 21, said.

Although some individuals expressed fear for the future, others shared that they still remain hopeful that our world leaders will come together to enact real change in terms of minimizing the effects of global warming and climate change.

“It is easy to hear all of these things in the news about how bad the state of our climate and politics are and think that there is no hope, but I believe that we have to keep trying to fight this issue and do what we can as individuals even if the government is not doing their part,” Espinosa said.

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