So far Spain has suffered nearly 400 wildfires, following punishing heatwaves and long dry spells, which have devastated more than 287,000 hectares of land, according to the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS).
That is more than three times the total area destroyed in 2021, according to the EFFIS database.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said his cabinet would on Tuesday approve classifying as a disaster zone “all territories that have been devastated by the great fires that we have endured throughout this year”.
He was speaking during a visit to Bejis in the eastern Valencia region, where a wind-fanned blaze ravaged vast swathes of land over the past week, with around 2,200 people evacuated.
Firefighters managed to stabilise the blaze on Sunday, allowing local officials to lift all remaining evacuation orders.
Standing in front of charred trees, Sánchez said he regretted the “psychological blow” suffered by those who had lost their belongings to the flames, as well as the environmental damage.
Mañana en #CMin declararemos zona afectada por emergencia de protección civil a Bejís y al resto de territorios asolados por los incendios este verano. El cambio climático no admite cálculos oportunistas. Reforcemos la cooperación para hacer frente a este desafío común. pic.twitter.com/GMJ9L3LMNb
— Pedro Sánchez (@sanchezcastejon) August 22, 2022
“Unfortunately, science tells us that the coming summers are going to be even hotter. We are facing a climate emergency,” he added.
Parts of Spain are the driest they have been in a thousand years due to an atmospheric high-pressure system driven by climate change, according to a study published last month in the journal, Nature Geoscience.
Experts say climate change driven by human activity is boosting the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, droughts and wildfires.