From: Reuters
Published February 15, 2008 09:41 AM

Energy taxes in Italy seen falling as CO2 rises

ROME (Reuters) - Taxes on energy in Italy have fallen by almost a quarter in the last decade while greenhouse gas emissions have soared, environmental group Legambiente said on Friday, calling for greater action against climate change.

In its annual report on the state of the environment, Italy's leading green group said successive Italian governments had failed to discourage growing energy consumption or encourage renewable power such as wind and solar.

Italy's emissions of greenhouse gas -- the main one being carbon dioxide from energy use -- rose 12.1 percent between 1990 and 2005, whereas Italy has to reduce them by 6.5 percent over the 2008-2012 period under the Kyoto Protocol.

The report showed that while countries like Britain and Germany had increased energy tax and reduced emissions, Italian energy taxes, which were the highest in western Europe in 1995, had fallen 24 percent 10 years later.

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"There is a political backwardness in Italy," said Vittorio Cogliati Dezza, president of Legambiente. "It has politicians who don't know how to develop the economy. It's stuck in the model of the 1950s with nothing new."

"We need strong policies in the field of environment, tax, industry and research and development."

With an election on April 13-14, Legambiente will be pushing candidates to put the environment at the top of the agenda.

Cogliati Dezza said that, on balance, the center-left government of Romano Prodi which collapsed in January had been better for the environment than its predecessor, headed by Silvio Berlusconi, as it had started promoting renewables.

With both left and right making the economy the main theme at the start of their electoral campaigns, Legambiente is pushing them to link promised reduction in labor tax to increased tax on polluting forms of energy.

(Reporting by Robin Pomeroy; editing by James Jukwey)

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