MAY to July this year were the hottest and sunniest ever recorded in Scotland, according to a leading climate change charity.

Figures released by Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) show the average monthly temperature for the three months was 12.9C (55.2F), nearly half a degree above the previous hottest records for the same period in 2014 and 2006. FoES said the average monthly sunshine for May, June and July this year was 212.1 hours.

It said May was the hottest and sunniest ever; June was the third warmest and fifth sunniest ever; and July was the fourth warmest and eighth sunniest ever.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory MP welcomes climate change – for a very strange reason

Dr Richard Dixon, FoES director, said: “Although 2018 started cold, the last three months have been the hottest and sunniest early-summer ever recorded in Scotland. Heatwaves like these threaten to kill thousands every year in the future.

“With record temperatures, widespread wildfires and continuing droughts around the world, this summer has been a wake-up call on climate change. Scotland has seen crops wilting in fields, trains running at reduced speed and water shortage warnings, while other countries have seen much worse, including hundreds of deaths.

“Holidaymakers died on the beach in Greece, California looks set for another record-breaking fire season and temperatures in Spain and Portugal were forecast to reach above 45C (113F).”

Dixon added: “The weather is sending us very clear signals that our climate is changing in major ways. As records break we enter new territory for the planet and we should be worried. Some extra summer heat is no doubt welcome for many but the bigger picture is of bigger storms, more floods and more severe heatwaves.

“To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, we need to reduce the climate emissions from transport, industry and farming as rapidly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Lisbon has broken a 37-year-old record to notch its hottest temperature ever as an unrelenting heatwave bakes Portugal and neighbouring Spain.

Portugal’s weather service said the capital reached 44C (111.2F) on Saturday, surpassing the city’s previous record of 43C (109.4F) set in 1981. The day’s hottest temperature of 46.8C (116.2F) was recorded at Alvega in the centre of Portugal - the country’s highest temperature on record is 47.4C (117.3F) from 2003.

A mass of hot air from Africa is being blamed for the hot, dusty conditions across the Iberian Peninsula.

In Australia, which is enduring one of the worst droughts in 400 years, livestock is being slaughtered and farmers are facing financial ruin as some rural towns say they are just a few months from running out of water.

In Murrundi, in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, they have enough water to last for three to four months, but only if they stick to stringent rationing.

READ MORE: We have a moral duty to farmers to tackle climate change

Jen Morris, boss of the town’s White Hart Hotel, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) things had become so bad they were on the verge of bringing in trucks of water, but the town does not have tanks to store it in.

Morris said: “It’s a lot of stress to think that we’re using a lot of the town water considering how low the water level is.”