GRAFCAV7822. BILBAO, 06/05/2023.- La directora del Centro Vasco de Cambio Climático (BC3), María José Sanz, afirma en una entrevista con EFE que Euskadi "está empezando a mediterranizarse", que están variando los regímenes de temperatura y precipitación, y que hay que "adaptarse" a lo que ya está ocurriendo pero también tomar medidas para evitar que los cambios sean "muchísimo más importantes". EFE/Miguel Toña

The Basque Country is starting to “Mediterraneanise”.

Bilbao – The scientific director of the Basque Centre for Climate Change (BC3), María José Sanz, has stated that the Basque Country “is beginning to become more Mediterranean”, that temperature and precipitation regimes are changing, and that it is necessary to “adapt” to what is already happening but also to take measures to prevent the changes from becoming “much, much more important”.

“Climate change is there”, described this doctor in Biological Sciences from the University of Valencia in a talk with EFE, in which she also spoke of the need for more rational water management, and the need to protect water resources, ecosystems and vegetation cover.

“The temperature and precipitation regimes that we used to know are changing”, “it is no longer raining in the same way as before”, the traditional Basque sirimiri is no longer common, but there are more episodes of heavy rain.

In addition, heat waves are “more intense and frequent” and temperatures are “higher, including at night”, Sanz described.

And the data corroborate this: 2022 was the warmest year in the Basque Country since records have been kept, with an average temperature 1.8 degrees above the usual average, according to Euskalmet,

The Basque Meteorological Agency has also just described April this year as “very warm and very dry”, with half the expected rainfall and 35% more hours of sunshine than usual.

Faced with this situation, Sanz has indicated that it is necessary to “adapt” but also to adopt measures so that these changes that have already taken place do not accelerate or become “much, much more important”.

“It is not because we have changes that we have to think that this is irreversible. Obviously the changes are there but they could be worse and therefore we have to tackle them”, “mitigate”, he added.

País Vasco: muy expuesto

Sanz ha reconocido que Euskadi es un territorio “muy expuesto” porque tiene una zona costera muy grande que se va a ver afectada por el incremento del nivel del mar por la desaparición de la capa de hielo polar y la intensificación de las tormentas.

This has consequences for crops. “There are crops whose production and quality will vary for better or worse and therefore measures will have to be taken,” added Sanz, giving as an example the case of cereal, whose production this year, due to lack of water, looks set to “drop a lot”.

The scientific director of BC3 pointed out that in this context, water is a commodity whose consumption has to be “more rational”. “When there is an abundance of water, people don’t think that consumption needs to be more regulated. This has not been the case here before”, nor has the need for “water provided” to agriculture, he indicated.

For this reason, he assured that “we will have to think about how” to avoid “less water being wasted” and added that in this area we can learn from other areas, such as the Mediterranean, which “have been trying to manage this resource better” for many years.

Protecting water resources

Sanz stressed the importance of protecting water resources and said that it is necessary to preserve ecosystems and vegetation cover because “the way in which an ecosystem relates to the atmosphere often triggers rainfall”.

Linked to water, the BC3 is participating in the European Life Urbaso project that is being developed in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve together with the UPV/EHU, the Neiker research and livestock centre, the Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium and the EFE Agency.

The aim is to demonstrate that by protecting the soil and vegetation cover it is possible to improve the quality and quantity of water and reduce the physical-chemical treatment required for drinking water. Among the actions proposed within the framework of this project is the possibility of developing a system of payment for environmental services, as exists in countries such as Costa Rica, with the aim of encouraging forest owners in the area to collaborate in more sustainable environmental management.

Sanz stated that he defends the existence of a system of economic incentives to favour business models that are more respectful of the environment and that payment for environmental services could be one of them, but he also said that other indirect incentives could be activated to contribute to this objective. On strategies to tackle climate change, he acknowledged that all of them are appropriate if they are implemented. “An ambitious strategy is better, but if it is not implemented, it is of little use,” he said.

“The human race has always adapted”.

The scientific director of the BC3 finally assured that “the human race and the agricultural sector have always adapted to changes and climatic disturbances”, but she called for a situation “that is not very optimistic in order to act”.

“If we think that this is going to happen and we don’t act, we may find ourselves in a very difficult situation,” he said. He therefore advocated considering the scientific projections, which “are quite negative”, and starting to take “serious measures”.

“I believe that we will adapt. We have always adapted, but we will have to make a greater effort than we would have done if these circumstances were not happening now”, he concluded. EFE