Climate activists stage bold protest by blocking holes on Spanish golf courses to highlight water usage


Climate activists belonging to Extinction Rebellion (XR) took to Spanish golf courses on Sunday night to block the holes in protest against the sport’s excessive water consumption during a severe drought gripping Europe.

Under the cover of darkness, XR activists filled in holes across ten golf courses located in Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia, the Basque Country, Navarra, and the Balearic Island of Ibiza. Their objective was to denounce what they perceive as a wasteful use of water during one of the most devastating droughts Europe has experienced.

A statement released by XR emphasized their stance, stating, “Golf has no place in a world without water.” The group, known for its disruptive actions aimed at drawing attention to environmental concerns, employed various tactics. Some activists blocked the holes with cement and left banners reading, “Alert: drought! Golf closed for climate justice.” Others filled the holes with seedlings, amplifying the message that the precious resource of water should not be squandered.

Citing figures from the Spanish NGO Ecologists In Action, XR highlighted the staggering amount of water required to maintain golf courses. “Just one hole of a golf course consumes more than 100,000 liters of water a day to maintain the surrounding green,” XR stated. They further revealed that in Spain alone, 437 golf courses are irrigated daily, surpassing the combined water consumption of the populations of Madrid and Barcelona. With only 0.6 percent of the population enjoying this recreational activity, XR condemned the continuation of such an elitist pastime amid the country’s worsening water scarcity, leading to devastating losses for rural communities reliant on water for their crops.

Experts have raised concerns about the state of drought in Spain, noting that certain regions, known for being the world’s leading exporter of olive oil and a vital source of Europe’s fruits and vegetables, are experiencing the driest conditions in a millennium. The prolonged drought has caused reservoirs to deplete to just half of their normal capacity.

Last summer marked the hottest in recorded European history, and recent data from the European Drought Observatory revealed that Spain faced a red alert, indicating severe water scarcity, over 60 percent of its territory between June 1 and 10. The first heatwave of the summer pushed temperatures above 44 degrees Celsius, exacerbating the crisis.

The protest at golf courses follows a series of similar actions taken by XR in recent weeks in cities such as Malaga, Seville, Almeria, and Cordoba. XR emphasized that these demonstrations were part of an international movement targeting the wealthiest 1 percent of the population, aiming to draw attention to their excessive consumption, including golf courses, private jets, and luxury vehicles. The group firmly believes that the lavish and resource-intensive leisure activities of the wealthy are an unsustainable luxury that society cannot afford.

XR’s key demand is the immediate implementation of a democratically-agreed plan for water usage, including restrictions on watering golf course greens. By targeting golf courses, they aim to bring public attention to the urgent need for responsible water management in the face of a rapidly changing climate.

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