Ronchi defends Italian carbon tax

Environment minister counters calls for "caution," describing tax as essential to meet climate targets

The carbon tax introduced by the Italian government in January is having a "minimal" effect on petrol price rises and is essential for Italy to achieve its Kyoto protocol commitment to cut greenhouse emissions by 6.5%, Italian environment minister Edo Ronchi said on Friday. The minister was responding to growing speculation that the scope of the tax might be reduced. Earlier this month, the government cut fuel taxes temporarily amidst fears of growing inflation (ENDS Daily 3 November). The day before Mr Ronchi made his statement, Italy's prime minister told journalists that while the carbon tax would stay, "greater caution" might be needed in the way it was applied to avoid causing inflationary pressures. But the environment minister robustly defended the tax. "Unleaded fuel prices have risen by 240 lire per litre since the beginning of the year, while the carbon tax has added only 32 lire per litre," he said. "Clearly, the carbon tax has added only minimally to petrol prices" [IL240 = euros 0.12]. Italian environmental groups have supported Mr Ronchi's stance, arguing that the carbon tax has been applied so far with too much caution rather than too little.

Follow Up:
Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 06 57221; Italian prime minister's office.

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