Pollution emergency declared in Italian cities

Measure aimed at enabling "extraordinary measures" greeted by environmentalists as "cynical"

In an unprecedented move, Italy's cabinet on Thursday declared a state of "environmental emergency" in the cities of Milan, Venice and Messina. The measure responds to poor air quality due to road traffic emissions in Milan and Messina, and to damage to buildings caused by outwash from motor boats in Venice.

The declaration will enable parliament to nominate local commissioners with powers to devise and implement "extraordinary measures" to tackle the crises. The measures have yet to be defined, but could include closing certain areas to road or boat traffic, charging tolls or imposing fines.

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