Spain logged hottest year on record in 2020

MADRID, May 14 (Reuters) - Spain experienced its hottest year on record last year, the Environment Ministry said on Friday, a day after parliament passed a landmark bill to combat climate change.

In a year marked by extreme weather events and heatwaves, Spain's average temperature reached 14.8 degrees Celsius, according to the ministry, around 1.7 degrees hotter than the pre-industrial average, and above the 1.5 degree target for the world set out in the Paris agreement.

Some 76% of that increase has occurred in the last 60 years, the ministry said.

The findings echo recent studies by the European Union and the United Nations, which found last year was the hottest on record in Europe and among the top three warmest years globally. read more

Seven of the 10 hottest years in Spain occurred in the last decade, according to the report, which warned the average temperature could rise by as much as 5 degrees above pre-industrial average by the end of the century.

Concentrations of greenhouse gases also reached historic highs, despite a temporary reduction in emissions caused by measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry said.

Alongside three heatwaves - one of which was among the longest on record - Spain was hit by a barrage of extreme weather last year, including Storm Gloria, which left 13 dead and unleashed record rainfall on the Mediterranean coast in January.

"Extreme meteorological events of this type cost our country around 700 lives and 900 million euros a year," the ministry said.

After several years of parliamentary wrangling, lawmakers on Thursday passed Spain's first national climate-change law, which aims to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050.

Criticised by left-wing parties as unambitious, the emissions reduction targets will be revised in 2023.

Germany, by comparison, recently pledged carbon neutrality by 2045 and China targets it by 2060 read more

Reporting by Nathan Allen; Additional reporting by Isla Binnie; Editing by Inti Landauro and Giles Elgood

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