Climate worries begin early in Iberia as January heats up

By Reuters

January 26, 2024 at 1:00 PM

MADRID/LISBON (Reuters) - Spring temperatures in the middle of Spain's winter lured people to beaches and outdoor cafes on Thursday - but even those enjoying the unusually warm weather voiced concerns about climate change and the threat of new heatwaves.

The meteorology service expected temperatures to reach 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) in the Mediterranean region of Murcia and 24-26C in most of Andalusia in southern Spain, with many other parts of the country climbing to 20C - up to 10C above normal levels for the time of the year in some places.

Scientists have linked scorching temperatures and dry and windy conditions in many parts of the world, including southern Europe, to climate change.

Last year was the second warmest on record in Spain with consecutive heatwaves causing droughts and wildfires.

"We're a bit surprised that it's so pleasantly warm... And it's nice for us now, but we don't think it's completely normal," German tourist Thorsten Petersen, 66, told Reuters in downtown Madrid.

Adela, a local pensioner, added: "Those who say there is no climate change just have to look at what's happening: it's either too cold or too warm. I think this is a disaster".

Footage showed people taking off their winter coats and some wearing shorts and T-shirts in Madrid.

In neighbouring Portugal, the air warmed up the most in the central district of Leiria, reaching 23C, and the weather agency IPMA expected 24C there on Friday. In the North, temperatures were 8-9C above normal levels, it said.

"I think it's because of the climate change," French tourist Jane Dubois told Reuters standing by the River Tagus in Lisbon. "It's our future so we have to protect the planet."

Fabio Silvestre, visiting Lisbon with his small daughter from Italy, echoed the climate concerns: "I am a bit worried about my daughter... The weather is not normal like this."

(Reporting by Guillermo Martinez in Madrid and Miguel Gutierrez in Madrid, Miguel Pereira and Patricia Rua in Lisbon, additional reporting and writing by Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip and Hugh Lawson)


Reuters is a news agency owned by Thomson Reuters Corporation. It employs around 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists in about 200 locations worldwide. Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world.

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