Agricultural Groups Call on Spanish Government to Step Up Climate Change Response

Climate and agricultural advocates seek funding for insurance and investments in water-saving infrastructure.
Andalusia, Spain
By Ofeoritse Daibo
Feb. 5, 2024 16:53 UTC

The Coordinator of Agriculture and Livestock Organizations (COAG), a farm­ers’ union, has admon­ished the Spanish gov­ern­ment for reduc­ing fund­ing for agri­cul­tural insur­ance in its December 2023 bud­get, a sig­nif­i­cant tool used to fight the effects of cli­mate change.

The Ministry of Agriculture has turned a deaf ear to the requests of the sec­tor and, ignor­ing the effects of cli­mate change in the coun­try­side, has cut 21 per­cent in the insur­ance bud­get for 2024, going from €358 mil­lion in 2023 to the scarce €284 mil­lion for the new year,” said Pedro García, COAG’s head of agri­cul­tural insur­ance.

The cur­rent cli­mate sit­u­a­tion is very dif­fer­ent from before due to its increas­ing impact on olive oil pro­duc­tion. If the weather does­n’t change, olive oil prices will con­tinue to rise.- Juan Vilar, CEO, Vilcon

Although Decree-Law 8/2023 adopts some mea­sures to alle­vi­ate the effects of drought, crit­ics said it has not taken into account the impor­tance of agri­cul­tural insur­ance as the pri­mary risk man­age­ment tool for farm­ers and ranch­ers.

According to Juan Vilar, chief exec­u­tive of olive oil and agri­cul­tural con­sul­tancy Vilcon, the gov­ern­ment should focus more on address­ing the cur­rent cli­mate cri­sis.

See Also:IOC Leader Focuses on Expanding Cultivation, Fighting Climate Change

The cur­rent cli­mate sit­u­a­tion is very dif­fer­ent from before due to its increas­ing impact on olive oil pro­duc­tion,” he told Olive Oil Times. If the weather does­n’t change, olive oil prices will con­tinue to rise.”

In Spain, extra vir­gin olive oil prices at ori­gin hit record highs of €8.988 per kilo­gram, a 68 per­cent increase com­pared to last year, accord­ing to Infaoliva’s price obser­va­tory.

Overall, accord­ing to the European Commission, olive oil prices have risen 75 per­cent across the European Union since January 2021.

Meanwhile, data from Spain’s State Meteorological Agency (Aemet) show a mas­sive increase in heat­waves in Spain since 2015.

For exam­ple, Spain expe­ri­enced an unprece­dented 41 days of extreme heat between June and September 2022. In 2023, there were four sig­nif­i­cant heat­waves in suc­ces­sion, total­ing 24 days. According to Aemet, most of Spain only had rain in June.

This year will be the longest and dri­est, accord­ing to mete­o­rol­o­gists and inter­na­tional agen­cies, such as NASA,” Vilar said. However, it will likely rain a lot in spring here in Spain. According to weather fore­casts, we can expect 200 liters of rain per square meter. If that occurs, we can expect a har­vest of 1.3 to 1.4 mil­lion tons of pro­duc­tion in Spain for the next sea­son.”

With the cur­rent cli­mate being unusu­ally warm for win­ter, at 16 ºC in January, this is ter­ri­ble for the trees, which mis­take the cur­rent weather for spring,” he added. As a result, these trees are already flow­er­ing. If the weather now turns and tem­per­a­tures drop, the fruit could die. This phe­nom­e­non is called mete­oropa­thy, where a change in the weather does not align with the nat­ural rhythm of the envi­ron­ment.”

Vilar argued that Spain has plen­ti­ful water resources, and the gov­ern­ment must invest in bet­ter pro­tect­ing and uti­liz­ing them for agri­cul­ture and domes­tic con­sump­tion.

We need arti­fi­cial lakes, reser­voirs, desali­na­tion plants for sea­wa­ter, and a way to clean up black water from the cities to improve water avail­abil­ity for agri­cul­ture and human con­sump­tion,” he said. The gov­ern­ment needs to do more to improve the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.”

This includes defin­ing spe­cific strate­gies for each region, where water needs and avail­abil­ity dif­fer, and one uni­form plan would fail to meet spe­cific needs.

We have to think about sus­tain­able strate­gies,” Vilar said. The gov­ern­ment is defin­ing poli­cies to improve the sit­u­a­tion but needs to cre­ate infra­struc­ture, a proper struc­ture with prac­ti­cal steps. This takes invest­ment and mit­i­ga­tion through insur­ance, which is already long over­due.”

See Also:Water Efficiency, Sustainability Must Go Hand in Hand in the Olive Grove

In July 2023, Maria José Caballero, the head of rapid response at Greenpeace Spain, warned that Spain is get­ting hot­ter.

Projections indi­cate that if Spain does not severely cut the emis­sions that cause global warm­ing, the coun­try will become hot­ter, drier, more arid and fire-prone,” she said.


While the Spanish Sustainability Observatory also noted that Spain achieved a sig­nif­i­cant five per­cent reduc­tion in its green­house gas emis­sions in 2023, ana­lysts are call­ing for more prac­ti­cal steps against the threat of cli­mate change.

Cristina Bernal Aparicio, a dis­as­ter and risk man­age­ment expert, noted that reduc­ing car­bon emis­sions is no longer enough to reduce the effects of cli­mate change.”

She added that the base for cli­mate change adap­ta­tion in Spain is not enough” and that the coun­try is not ready for future haz­ards and the impacts of cli­mate change,” cit­ing a 2019 report on local cli­mate change poli­cies that found less than 30 per­cent of munic­i­pal gov­ern­ments – home to 60 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion – have made cli­mate change adap­ta­tion plans.

It is dif­fi­cult because the local com­mu­nity needs a lot of money to cope with envi­ron­men­tal changes,” Vilar said. Local farm­ers need gov­ern­ment back­ing. Without gov­ern­ment sup­port, there is no way to mit­i­gate the impact of the cli­mate cri­sis.”

The law is under the gov­ern­ment,” he added. Local farm­ers can save water but can­not do any­thing else. They can­not cre­ate an arti­fi­cial lake or take water from the sea; it is too expen­sive.”

Insurance can play a pro­tec­tive role in mit­i­gat­ing the neg­a­tive macro­eco­nomic and wel­fare impact of cat­a­stro­phes and cli­mate change dis­as­ters, includ­ing flood­ing and drought, accord­ing to a 2021 study by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).

Although around 30 to 35 per­cent of Spanish olive groves have irri­ga­tion, 65 per­cent do not,” Vilar said. They do not have the infra­struc­ture for irri­ga­tion. The 35 per­cent that are irri­gated do not have enough water due to water scarcity. So, 100 per­cent of olive groves do not have water unless it rains.”

In Spain, there is not enough water to live daily,” he added. Seville [the Andalusian cap­i­tal], at the moment, has severe restric­tions. In Seville, these water restric­tions mean that water usage has been reduced to 21 per­cent in the south­ern part. Things will become more dif­fi­cult in the sum­mer, espe­cially if there is insuf­fi­cient rain in the spring.”

According to COAG, ” the dam­ages are greater, the guar­an­tees are lower, and the costs to the sec­tor are higher” due to the impacts of cli­mate change on Spain in the past few years.


Related Articles