It is irresponsible to deny the obvious. Climate change, a global phenomenon, It also hit Spain in a particular way. Examples multiply every day before our eyes: water restrictions for millions of people, hectares of crops damaged throughout the territory, droughts are becoming less rare and countless temperature records. No year will be hotter than 2023. And that doesn’t even mention the impact of climate change on biodiversity loss.
The big world climate summit, COP28, this year in the United Arab Emirates, opened a window of information about the climate crisis: This is the perfect quote to reveal the data about its severity and beyond to minimize its effects. We talk a lot about the climate these days, yes, but to what extent is it of interest to the Spanish public opinion? Are we aware of the seriousness of the climate crisis and its consequences? Why are we less mobile than other European societies?
Only 5.2% see it as one of the main problems
Let’s start with some data. The last CIS barometer, which was in November, directly asked the Spanish if they were worried about climate change. Soon, the response was overwhelming: 77% say they are very worried. Only 7% said they were not worried at all.
But there is another question that explains to us to what extent the climate crisis is a priority for us. When the CIS asked, apparently, without proposing options, which we list three main problems in Spain, only 5.2% of those surveyed mentioned climate change. This explains, in part, why we act less than the citizens of central and northern Europe. There street demonstrations to demand action to stop climate change are more frequent than in our country, despite the fact that in Spain the results are the same or even more evident. Why did this happen?
Not very knowledgeable about nature
“Sociological research shows that the richest countries have more environmental knowledge than the poorest,” explained Mercedes Pardo, professor of Sociology and head of the Sociology of Climate Change research group at Carlos III University. “When a society reaches a certain level of material development and well-being, it begins to look for post-material values, such as having clean air,” he added.
It is there that the countries of central and northern Europe are ahead of the countries of the south and east. Spain has historically had a higher unemployment rate than other European countries. The economy, the daily needs of the economy, has been our priority for decades.
Politics also reflects the priorities of a society. In Germany, for example, The Green Party is part of the government coalition. In Spain, no party focused on environmental and climate issues is represented in Congress. Those who have tried it in recent years give different reasons. Juantxo López de Uralde, now coordinator of Alianza Verde, formerly of Equo, managed to become a representative, but within the umbrella of Unidas Podemos.
He never achieved this with his own training. He admitted that the climate crisis was overshadowed by other issues and expressed his lack of success to the electoral system and the lack of knowledge in Spanish society: “We are far from understanding the seriousness of the ecological crisis in which we are immersed and its effects at all levels.”
López de Uralde believes that society will gradually realize that Climate change affects their daily lives. Food production is an example of this. Prices will go up, remember, and people need to be told why: “If environmental conditions prevent the production of certain foods, obviously prices will go up,” he explained. The price of olive oil, he emphasized, has a lot to do with the climate crisis we are experiencing. Although Spain is not a unique case: other Mediterranean countries such as Italy or Greece started in similar situations.
From crisis diagnosis… to solutions
The move towards a more informed, more mobilized society also involves providing better information to citizens, explains Mercedes Pardo. “We must improve in the field of training. One thing is to know about climate change and another is to know how it happens in our lives and how we can act to stop it: we must say well to citizens what it means to reduce. consumerism or what is the ecological footprint.”
Javier Peña, environmental popularizer and founder of hOPE, a platform. “We must move from the discourse of ‘there is a problem’ to the discourse of ‘these are the solutions,’ he said. Peña, who traveled to COP28, recalled that climate change represents in Spain “a big risk, but also a great opportunity”. The green transition has many benefits for a country like ours, but we must explain to the affected sectors that adaptation and change of course is good for everyone .
He gives as an example of this the farmers. Many of them will be forced to change their crops, to adapt their activities. If they do not see that this effort is something positive, they tend to accept discourses that deny the seriousness of the climate crisis, argued Peña, a supporter of the promotion of agricultural reform as an opportunity for a sustainable future.
COP28 continues its course these days. Limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial values It remains a goal for everyone, even when the goal seems increasingly difficult to achieve. Similarly, European Union governments have approved regulations to accelerate the ecological transition, reduce emissions and restore biodiversity. she green deal, In fact, it is a cornerstone of the policies of the European Commission, which is about to run out of its mandate. Governments, large multinationals, have a good margin for manipulation, but social conscience, at least in our country, has a way to go. We risk the future.