In an embarrassment for Italian politicians, the Veneto regional council meeting taking place in the historic Palazzo Ferro Fini in Venice, flooded for the first time in history just minutes after Councillors rejected steps to combat climate change.
Councillors were debating the 2020 regional budget at the Palazzo on the Grand Canal when it started to flood. As per a Facebook post by Democratic leader Andrea Zanoni, the water started to pour in like a stream at around 10 pm and flooded the ground floor. Furniture, electrical sockets and other items was submerged and the Palace had to evacuated.
"Ironically, the chamber was flooded two minutes after the majority League, Brothers of Italy, and Forza Italia parties rejected our amendments to tackle climate change," Zanoni wrote.
Zanoni, deputy chairman at the environment committee, also accused Luca Zaia, member of Matteo Salvini's League Party and premier of the Veneto region, of not taking any 'concrete' steps to combat climate change in the budget. He also shared images and videos of the flooded Pallazo floor on social media.
Among the amendments that were rejected were crucial environmental ones relating to funding of renewable resources, replacement of diesel buses with cleaner alternatives and scrapping of poluttion-causing stoves and plastic were among some of the ones that did not receive the favour of the Councillors.
Council President and League member Roberto Ciambetti also shared videos of the flooding.
"Never had such a situation occurred here (at the Council). The flood-proof bulkheads were not sufficient to contain the flood wave, nor was it possible to leave the building... It was preferred to guarantee safety and therefore to stay all inside the palace," Ciambetti told local newspaper Giornale di Vicenza.
However, he refused to accept Zanoni's accusations of the the League not taking adequate measures to curb climate change.
"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," said the statement, reported by CNN.
Meanwhile, the Italian government under Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is set to declare a state of emergency in flood-ravaged Venice, to swiftly secure the historic city funds to repair damage from the highest tide in 50 years.
Conte spent Wednesday night in Venice, where world-famous monuments, homes and businesses were hit hard by the exceptional flooding. The water reached 1.87 meters above sea level Tuesday, the second-highest level ever recorded in the city.