State of the Italian environment reviewed

Bordon presents first official state of the environment report for three years

Italian environment minister Willer Bordon on Wednesday presented the government's fourth state of the environment report in the presence of the president of the republic and the president of the lower house of parliament.

The minister described the three years since the government's previous report as a period in which "Italy has made great efforts to improve the state of the environment and increase sustainability". He committed to integrating environmental considerations into all aspects of policy decision-making, moving gradually towards a ecological tax policy and opening environmental policy to a wider cross-section of society.

The report is divided into nine areas and provides statistics to illustrate trends over the last three years and outlines action taken in each area:

* Climate change: Greenhouse gas emissions have risen 5.4% since 1990. There is a euros 51.6bn (ITL100,000bn) programme to reduce emissions. A new general transport and logistics plan will integrate environmental criteria into all policy in the sector.

* New energy sources: The government wants to double renewable energy production by 2010, and invest euros 100m in solar power.

* Ground and subsoil: All responsibility for ground and subsoil policy is to be consolidated in the environment ministry.

* Habitats: There is to be a major increase in habitat protection. New legislation will combat the impacts of illegal tourist developments.

* Water: Existing legislation has not eliminated prevalence of poor water quality (37% very bad or sub-standard). There has been no improvement in eutrophication, and salinisation is worsening, although sea water quality is improving. Euros 2bn has been spent on 544 water purification projects.

* Maritime transport: There is a major financial and legislative effort to equip coastal and port authorities to reduce risks from maritime transport of dangerous substances.

* Waste: Generation increased 4% from 1995 to 1998. Selective collection of urban solid waste beat a 15% target and waste disposal in landfill sites fell for the first time in 1998. Nevertheless, there remain big disparities in selective collection between south and north.

* Urban areas: There has been a 5% decline in public transport and 25% rise in private transport passenger kilometres. Sulphur dioxide limits in air are regularly breached in many cities but there has been a fall in carbon monoxide breaches. The government is undertaking a euros 52bn investment in public transport and alternative fuel research.

* New health risks: Measures are being taken to control electrosmog and a special commission on genetically modified organisms is to report soon.

Follow Up:
Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 06 57 22 55 80, and State of the Italian environment 2001.

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