Last week, 6 months worth of rain fell in a 36 hour period in Emilia-Romagna, a region of Northern Italy just a couple of hours away from where I grew up. This caused rivers to burst their banks leading to devastating, deadly floods. Tragically, 14 people died, and over 36,000 were forced to leave their homes. On top of the human cost, there’s at least 620 million euros of damage to the region’s infrastructure, and the damage to agricultural production is estimated to be 1.5 billion euro. It’s Italy’s worst flood in 100 years, only the latest in the country’s long history of natural disasters. 
The floods have come after years of severe drought, which reduced the soil’s ability to absorb water. Scientists are clear on the link between disasters like this one, and the climate crisis. Mauro Rossi, at the Italian National Research Council, said on Wednesday: “Rising temperatures intensify drought episodes, drying up the soil and changing its permeability in different ways.” Fridays for Future and other climate justice groups in the region have pulled up their sleeves to help with clean-up while also highlighting that this isn’t a one-off event, it’s the climate crisis. 
The way to mitigate these kinds of disasters is clear, and receives widespread public support, but infuriatingly, the government refuses to act at the scale and speed required. 71% of Italians want their government to do more to address the climate crisis. We know this means leaving coal, oil and gas in the ground, rather than building new fossil fuel infrastructure. Despite the scientific consensus, many leading politicians and large parts of the media are frustratingly leaving room for climate denialism in their interventions, and vilifying the climate activists who want urgent action. Just last week, a government party senator has been dismissing scientific consensus on the climate crisis, when commenting on the floods. Scores of climate activists keep being mocked and insulted on TV and on newspapers. And the Italian government, as part of the G7, failed once again to deliver bold climate action by, amongst other things, supporting a continued expansion of fossil gas infrastructure in the summit’s final communiqué. 
But in the face of disaster, what’s truly heartwarming is that we also see the Italian people’s spirit of resistance shining through. After the floods, thousands of volunteers traveled to Emilia-Romagna, from all over the country, to help. A video on Twitter shows a group of volunteers singing “Romagna Mia” (a traditional song of the region) while cleaning up the streets.
A Cesena i cittadini spalano il fango
senza sosta cantando “Romagna mia” pic.twitter.com/a3MRFEwBpg
— James Lucas (@JamesLucasIT) May 19, 2023
The climate crisis is here, and the sad truth is that extreme weather events like this are only going to be more common – along with storms, droughts and heat waves. There’s no easy fix. This is a crisis caused by the climate-wrecking fossil fuel corporations and the banks that keep funding them – and it can seem almost insurmountable in scale. Some of the impacts of the climate crisis are now inescapable, but for every fraction of a degree of warming that we can stop, lives will be saved. Every effort to push back against fossil fuels and help build a just world powered by renewable energy is preventing disasters like these floods from being more frequent and intense.
There are many ways to take action to help stop the climate crisis, but for now, what the people of Emilia-Romagna need most urgently is financial support. If you are able to help, the regional administration of Emilia-Romagna is raising funds for affected people and communities. Pulling up the key information from that webpage just for your ease of access, here’s where you can send some money:
- IBAN: IT69G0200802435000104428964
- BIC: UNCRITM1OM0
- account name: Agenzia regionale Sic.T. Protezione civile Emilia Romagna
Let’s show up for the people of Emilia-Romagna, let’s show up to fight the climate crisis.