The chambers of the Veneto Regional Council in Venice, Italy, flooded for the first time in known history Tuesday night — apparently right after its members rejected amendments to tackle climate change.
Flooding in the iconic Italian canal city has prompted discussions about the effects of climate change and rising sea levels on the city’s future.
In a Facebook post, Andrea Zanoni, the deputy chairman of the regional council’s environment committee, explained the circumstances surrounding Tuesday night’s event.
“The room flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy and Forza Italia had failed our amendments to counter climate change,” he wrote, referring to two Italian right-wing parties and the center-right Forza Italia party.
Zanoni accused regional president Luca Zaia, who is a member of the far-right League party, of presenting a 2020 budget with “no concrete actions to combat climate change.”
Zanoni also blamed Venice’s high tide, which has peaked at more than six feet above the usual level and caused at least one death, on a combination of factors including rising sea levels due to glacial melt. He said that the rejected amendments had included requests for funding for more renewable energy sources, the replacement of diesel buses and measures to reduce the impact of plastic.
“If the voters of Veneto continue to close their eyes, Zaia’s League will bring us all underwater,” he said.
Alessandro Ovizach, a spokesperson for the regional council, confirmed in a statement to CNN that the council chambers flooded following discussion about amendments to the 2020 budget, but did not specify which ones.
Robert Ciambetti, the council’s president and a member of the League party, called Zanoni’s claims propaganda 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.
Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted earlier this week that flooding had brought Venice to its knees, describing the conditions as “apocalyptic.”
The highest water levels in the region in more than 50 years will leave “a permanent mark,” he wrote.
“Now the government must listen,” he added. “These are the effects of climate change ... the costs will be high.”
Ciambetti also shared images of the flooding in the council chambers and around Venice.