Venice government office is flooded minutes after officials rejected plan to combat climate change

CBS News

15th November, 2019 01:26:04 printer

Venice government office is flooded minutes after officials rejected plan to combat climate change

Just moments after council members rejected measures to tackle climate change, the Veneto regional council — located on Venice's Grand Canal — was flooded for the first time ever.

Venice has been suffering its worst flooding in more than 50 years, which Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro blamed on climate change.

The regional council chambers, which are located in the Ferro Fini Palace, started to take on water around 10 p.m Tuesday as council members were discussing the regional budget for 2020, according to Andrea Zanoni, a council member and chair of the environment committee.

In his Facebook post, Zanzoni noted that "Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected" amendments to counter climate change.

He added that the "budget does not contain any concrete action to counteract climate change," and all amendments that were put forward to address climate change, like replacing diesel buses with more energy efficient ones or reducing plastic use, were rejected. 

Zanoni blamed Luca Zaia, Veneto's regional president and a member of Matteo Salvini's far-right League Party, for presenting a budget "with no concrete actions to combat climate change."

Council President Roberto Ciambetti — also a member of the right-wing League party — posted videos of the flooding on Facebook as well.

He took issue with Zanoni's criticism in a statement to CNN.

"Beyond propaganda and deceptive reading, we are voting (for) a regional budget that spent €965 million over the past three years in the fight against air pollution, smog, which is a determining factor in climate change," he said in the statement.

Italy's historic canal city sits on a tidal lagoon just above sea level, which causes the city's streets and sidewalks to get wet at high tide. But this week, the water peaked more than six feet  above the usual level and at least one death has been blamed on the flooding already.

CBS News correspondent Holly Williams reports that 85% of Venice has been flooded by this year's "acqua alta," or "high water.

The World Heritage Site has suffered hundreds of millions of dollars in damage because of its floods and experts worry that flood barriers scheduled to be completed in 2022 won't be sufficient to solve the problem.

Last month, a new study warned that about 300 million people worldwide will be exposed to coastal inundation by 2050 as sea levels rise — and that number could rise to 630 million by the year 2100 if carbon emissions don't decrease.