In an audacious display of ecological dissent, Italian activists from the Extinction Rebellion group staged a synchronized protest in major cities including Venice, Rome, and Milan. The activists turned the waters of canals and rivers an eerie green using a harmless substance known as fluorescein. The protest squarely targeted the government of Giorgia Meloni and the ongoing Climate Change Summit (COP 28) in Dubai.
A Visual Appeal for Climate Action
The activists voiced their resentment over what they termed as a political failure to address the escalating climate crisis and the impending sixth mass extinction. As part of the protest, activists in Venice, in a theatrical representation of the city's 'catastrophic future', descended from the iconic Rialto Bridge, parading a banner and playing the soundtrack from the movie Titanic. In parallel, similar scenes took place in Milan's Naviglio Grande and along the Tiber River in Rome, as well as in Bologna and Turin.
Responses to the Protest
The demonstration, while visually striking, was met with mixed reactions. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro denounced the action as 'eco-vandalism' and called for punitive measures. Meanwhile, boat traffic on the Grand Canal was suspended, and the canal water and the Rialto Bridge were inspected for safety. The activists, however, were taken to police stations for identification.
Climate Crisis and COP 28
The protest comes at a critical time when 198 countries are convening at COP 28, a global conference discussing strategies to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C as per the Paris Agreement. This follows reports of the past year being the hottest on record, giving rise to dangerous heatwaves and extreme weather events worldwide. The Extinction Rebellion's actions, while controversial, have cast a spotlight on the urgency of these discussions. In a separate incident, the Ultima Generazione group faced condemnation for using extinguishers to spray a mud-like liquid on the facade of the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, further fueling the debate around climate activism.