Italy's central bank governor goes green

Antonio Fazio calls for action to achieve sustainable development, cut numbers of cars

In a highly unusual move for a European central banker, the governor of the Bank of Italy made a strong plea on Sunday for politicians and businesses to take action to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development. Antonio Fazio particularly called for greater investment in public transport.

Speaking in Assisi on the occasion of Italy's latest "car-free day," Mr Fazio claimed there were too many cars on Italy's roads and said that their numbers should be cut in favour of greater and "more balanced" use of alternative and more ecological forms of transport based on new fuels. He called on the government to rapidly introduce a programme of "coordinated, public investment" to improve the quality of life in Italian cities.

Some 31m cars are registered in Italy, or 1.9 per adult, the highest ratio in any country apart from the USA. In 1998, Italians travelled an average of 15,000 km, more than 80% of which by car. There are only 200 km of subway and tram lines in the country, compared with 400 km in London alone.

In his speech, Mr Fazio also made a general plea for the sustainable development agenda to be taken seriously. Care for the environment does not hinder economic growth but presents business with "a great opportunity," he said. Italian politicians should promote sustainable development both at home and abroad, he continued. The government should re-launch Italy's poorer southern regions through "ecological" tourism and high-quality agriculture and should undertake a national "programme of reconstruction to achieve an infrastructure equal to Italy's international role".

Follow Up:
Bank of Italy, tel +39 06 064 7921.

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