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Venice council is flooded minutes after rejecting climate change measures

Minutes after right-wing members of Venice’s Venito council rejected measures designed to combat climate change, the council chamber was flooded by historic high tides from the city’s Grand Canal. 

The city has seen the worst flooding in 50 years, with water levels peaking at 1.87 metres (6 feet) – the second highest tide in the Unesco World Heritage site in recorded history. 

Five of the highest tides have now occurred in the past 20 years, with the most recent being just last year.

The city’s mayor, Luigi Brugnaro, described the latest flooding as a “direct result of climate change”.

The council chamber where the measures were being debated in Ferro Fini Palace started to take in water around 10pm local time, as councillors were debating the 2020 regional budget, Democratic Party councillor and deputy chairman of the environment committee Andrea Zanoni wrote in a Facebook post.

“Ironically the room flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia had rejected our amendments to counter climate change,” he said. 

He added that the council was “proposing funding for renewable sources, for electric columns, for the replacement of diesel buses with others more efficient and less polluting for the scrapping of stoves, to finance the pacts of mayors for sustainable energy and climate change, and to reduce the impact of plastic, etc”.

But as the debate continued, ​“all furnishings, rugs, chairs and in particular many electrical appliances such as sockets ... were underwater”.

Mr Zanoni said the high tide was “due to many factors including climate change, with sea level rise due to the dissolution of glaciers from the overheating world”.

He also accused the Veneto regional president, Luca Zaia, a member of Matteo Salvini’s far-right League Party, of presenting a “budget that does not contain any concrete action to counteract climate change”.

The flooding has left large parts of Venice underwater this week. 

With more severe flooding expected throughout Friday, St Mark’s Square has been closed as a precaution.

The historic floodwaters would leave “a permanent mark”, mayor Brugnaro tweeted. “Now the government must listen. These are the effects of climate change... the costs will be high.”

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