SHARE
COPY LINK

HEATWAVE

Italy declares drought emergency in five northern regions

Italy's government declared a state of emergency in five northern regions and announced emergency funds over a worsening drought that has plagued the Po Valley in recent weeks.

Italy declares drought emergency in five northern regions
An aerial view shows the Ponte delle Barche (Bridge of the Boats) in Bereguardo, near Pavia, Lombardy, and the low water level of the Ticino river. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP)

The cabinet approved a state of emergency in five regions – Friuli-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto – until December 31st, the government said in a statement that also announced a €36.5 million fund to help those affected.

Italy is facing an unusually early heatwave and a lack of rainfall, particularly in the northern agricultural Po Valley, which has been hit by its worst drought in 70 years.

READ ALSO: Eight ways to save water during Italy’s drought

The state of emergency provides “extraordinary means and powers” to help guarantee public safety, compensation for losses while seeking to guarantee normal living conditions for those in the area.

According to the country’s largest agricultural union, Coldiretti, the drought threatens more than 30 percent of national agricultural production, and half of the farms in the Po Valley, where Parma ham is produced.

Lakes Maggiore and Garda were also hit by lower than normal water levels for this time of year, while further south the Tiber River, which runs through Rome, also dropped.

READ ALSO: Drought in Italy: What water use restrictions are in place and where?

The Po represents the peninsula’s largest water reservoir, much of which is used by farmers.

In recent days, several municipalities have announced restrictions.

Verona, a city of a quarter of a million people, has rationed the use of drinking water, while Milan has announced the closure of its decorative fountains. Another consequence of the drought is that hydroelectric power production has fallen sharply.

Hydroelectric plants, mostly in the mountainous north of the country, account for nearly 20 percent of national energy production.

The announcement comes a day after at least seven people died after a glacier collapsed in the Italian Alps which Prime Minister Mario Draghi said was “without doubt” linked to global warming.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

CLIMATE CRISIS

Italian climate activists throw flour over Andy Warhol car

Italian environmental group Ultima Generazione on Friday poured flour over a sports car painted by Andy Warhol on display in Milan, in the latest of a wave of protests demanding action on climate change.

Italian climate activists throw flour over Andy Warhol car

Protesters entered the Fabbrica del Vapore exhibition space in Milan at around 11am on Friday morning and threw eight kilos of flour over a BMW sports car painted by the late Andy Warhol back in 1979. 

Two members of the environmental group Ultima Generazione (‘Last Generation’) then proceeded to glue their hands to the car’s windows. 

At the time of writing it wasn’t clear whether the artwork, valued at 10 million euros, had suffered any significant damage.

“They told us beauty will save the world, but that’s bullshit,” Ultima Generazione sad in a statement released immediately afterwards.

“Only immediate and radical actions to tackle the effects of the current climate crisis will change the world as we know it.”

Activists from Italy’s Ultima Generazione after their latest protest in Milan on Friday, November 18th. Photo: Ultima Generazione.

In the same statement, the group referred to the Italian government’s handling of the environmental crisis as “criminal”, accusing people in power of “endangering people’s lives”.

Friday’s episode was only the latest in a series of demonstrations seeking to jolt public opinion over the consequences of climate change and the need to make the switch to renewable energy sources.

READ ALSO: Climate activists hurl pea soup at Van Gogh painting in Rome

Only two weeks ago, on November 4th, protesters from the same group hurled pea soup at a Van Gogh painting in Rome – an action which Italy’s new culture minister, Gennaro Sangiuliano, later condemned as “ignoble”. 

Ultima Generazione began in 2021 as a “campaign of nonviolent civil disobedience” aimed at uniting Italian activists concerned about climate change and the future of the planet.

The group has two main demands. Firstly, they ask that the reopening of old coal power plants be paused immediately and that all scheduled fracking operations be cancelled. 

Secondly, they want an increase in the use of solar energy and wind power equivalent to at least 20 gigawatts. 

Ultima Generazione is part of a EU-wide network of climate activists who have been recently targeting world-famous artworks, including Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” in The Hague, Netherlands and Gustav Klimt’s “Death and Life” in Vienna.

SHOW COMMENTS