The images of suffocating fish in the southern Spanish Mar Menor spread throughout the country a few weeks ago. Spreading their gills, they jumped to the beach in massive quantities and died there, gasping for oxygen. Local politicians quickly found a culprit: la gota fría , the cold drip. Meteorologists speak of cold air drops. The phenomenon causes torrential heavy rain, which occurs more frequently at the end of summer in Spain. The rainwater mixes with the ground and flows into the sea, where the fish can not breathe. In mid-September, seven people drowned in the floods, which caused hundreds of millions of euros in damage.
The example illustrates that Spain is already affected by the effects of climate change like almost no other European country. The sea level rises, the south dries up, forest fires increase, extreme weather conditions become more frequent. So far, however, environmental issues hardly play a role in politics. Nevertheless, a green coalition could enter parliament for the first time on Sunday. Climate change is bringing movement into the party landscape.
At the end of October, the cold drip was not only upsetting the fish: after the environmental disaster, 50,000 people protested on the streets of Cartagena. For the city on the Mar Menor with 200,000 inhabitants that was a surprisingly large number, movements like Fridays for Future or Extinction Rebellion are still rather insignificant in Spain. "The wise sea throws us our stupidity in the face", said the agricultural engineer Celia Mora over loudspeakers to the demonstrators: "The water is dirty and stifling, the death rushes around our feet." The idle politicians have no interest in environmental protection, the activists complained. On Sunday could change that, Íñigo Errejón wants to worry, who previously was one of the prominent figures of the left-wing populist movement Podemos.
"First the land, then the left camp and then we"
Errejón became known as a party opponent of the Podemos boss Pablo Iglesias. In Spain, they joke about the childlike face of 35-year-old Errejón. But "the child" - as some journalists call it - has emancipated itself from the left. He has set up his own party, Más País ("More Land"), which stands in alliance with the hitherto unsuccessful green party Equo and small regional parties to the election. Errejón tested the experiment last May in the regional election in Madrid. And he got 15 percent of the vote, three times as many as Podemos. Now Errejón tries the leap into the national parliament, after the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez had to call a new election for lack of a government majority. The Alliance is only in the most populated provinces of Spain for election, where there are many seats to get, so as not to hurt the left camp by the competition. "First the country, then the left camp and then us," said Errejón in a conversation with journalists.
The reality of climate change should actually provide good opportunities for a green alliance. According to the Spanish Ministry of Environment, three quarters of the country could become a desert during this century. Many beaches will disappear, experts of the organization Climate Central expect until 2100 with a sea level rise of 0.5 to 2 meters. Madrid will experience similar temperatures as Marrakech in 30 years, say scientists from the ETZ Zurich. The summer already lasts five weeks longer than in the eighties, warns the Spanish weather service. 45 degrees are no longer a rarity in the south of the country, making forest fires more common. And last but not least: With rising temperatures, many Africans will leave their homes and venture the dangerous way across the Mediterranean. They become climate refugees, a perfect enemy for the growing right-wing populists of the Vox party.
"Inequality between political supply and demand"
Despite the looming environmental debacle, the ecological awareness of the Spaniards is rather low. Thus, the state promotes the construction industry and mass tourism with tax breaks, far too close to the sea residential buildings and hotels are built. Farmers in arid regions invest in irrigated agriculture and often use illegal wells, while elsewhere they destroy ecosystems with monocultures. Untreated sewage often ends up in the rivers. You like to drive a car, the new express trains are too expensive for many people. Only one third of the waste is recycled, in Germany the quota is twice as high. Renewable energies are a bit better: 40 percent of total consumption is almost German.
And yet there is potential for a green movement, Errejón has realized. In surveys, almost all Spaniards say that people are causing climate change. And everyone experiences the ever hotter summers, the increasingly frequent droughts and ever stronger storms. The Spanish political scientist Guillem Vidal from the Social Science Research Center in Berlin (WZB) explains it in a conversation with ZEIT ONLINE: "When the green movement grew in Europe in the 1970s, we first had to create a democracy in Spain." In the past decade, people have also been struggling with the severe economic crisis, their worries were above all economic. More recently, the Social Democrats have presented at least a bit green. In Spain, there is still "an inequality between supply and demand," says Vidal, who therefore sees enough potential for a green party.