Just moments after Venice's Veneto council rejected measures to combat climate change, their palace was swamped with an unprecedented wave of flooding linked to – you guessed it – climate change.
Andrea Zanoni, a Democratic Party councilor, shared the moment of bittersweet irony in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
He explained that the Veneto Regional Council was in the process of discussing the regional budget for 2020 at the Palazzo Ferro Fini, a palace of Venice where the local council sits. According to Zanoni, the alliance of populist right-wing parties – including Lega Nord, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia – reported rejected amendments to the budget that would put more money towards counteracting climate change.
"[The] budget does not contain any concrete action to combat climate change," Zanoni explained in the post.
Unfortunately, just “two minutes” later, the politicians were asked to leave the room as the building was becoming flooded with water.
Roberto Ciambetti, the council’s president and Lega Nord politician, had a slightly different interpretation of the events, however. In a statement given to CNN, he said Zanoni's post was "deceptive" because the council's previous budgets have spent millions of euros on certain environmental measures, such as preventing air pollution.
Nevertheless, Ciambetti later posted his own video of the flooding at the Palazzo Ferro Fini, noting that the regional council was temporarily suspended.
Venice is currently experiencing some of the worst flooding in decades. Water levels in Venice peaked at 1.87 meters (6 feet) on Tuesday night amid the heavy rainfall, the second-highest the tide has ever been since records began in the 1920s, according to the Associated Press.
So far, the flooding has taken the lives of at least two people.
Much of Italy has been hit with torrential rainfall over the past week. However, Venice is especially at risk as it is a collection of 118 small islands that are less than 1 meter (3 feet) above sea level. A 2017 study, published in the journal Quaternary Science Review, found that Venice could be underwater and inhospitable by the end of the century if current trends continue.
The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, has asked for donations on Twitter to help with the clear-up. The floodwaters, a corrosive blend of rainwater and saltwater, are estimated to have caused hundreds of millions of euros' worth of damage to local businesses and infrastructure. Plus, given Venice’s unique heritage and architecture, it’s feared that much of this damage is irreparable.
“Venice is on its knees,” Brugnaro tweeted on Wednesday. “We need everyone’s help to overcome these days that are putting us to the test.
“These are the effects of climate change,” he added.
St Mark's Square, perhaps one of Venice’s most iconic sites aside from its canals, is among the worst affected areas. St Mark's Basilica, a Catholic cathedral completed in the 11th century, is also severely flooded. It’s reportedly the sixth time the cathedral has been flooded in the past 1,000 or so years, but four of these floods have occurred in the past 20 years alone.