rep06 – The Incorporation of the Environmental Dimension in Freight Transport – The Italian Case Study

Strati, Filippo et al. (SRS) (1996): The Incorporation of the Environmental Dimension into Freight Transport. The Italian Case Study. Freiburg. 196 p.

A major problem in the Italian transport system is its mono-modality, based on road transport. This problem affects the interrelationship between Italy, the bordering countries (Austria and Switzerland) and others (i.e. Germany). The Italian transport system is currently in risk of collapse because the roads are already overused and it is physically impossible to continue building motorways. Its contribution to ecological damages has also dramatically increased.

This Italian case study is part of a research project on AEnvironment and Freight Transport Policies@. It was funded by the European Commission (research programme “SEER”, GD XII, Brussels), the Swiss, German, Dutch and Danish Governments and the Tuscany Region. The main objective of the study was to inquire the scope and the barriers for sustainable mobility in the freight transport sector. One of the preconditions for “sustainable mobility” is the incorporation of environmental considerations in the transport policy decision-making process. The case study analyses the environmental objectives, the decision-making system and specific policy changes (e.g. infrastructure, taxation, deregulation) between 1984 and 1994. It has been written by Filippo Strati from Studio Ricerche Sociali (SRS) in Florence, a partner of EURES in this project. The report is also available in italian from SRS. The research, based on a policy analysis, describes: the state and dynamics of incorporation at national level; the history of two special cases concerning Tuscany (regional transport and environmental programming; hard infrastructures). The comparison of the national scenario with the regional context allowes to identify the most important factors which determine strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for incorporation. This comparison reveals that Tuscany has more potential than the national level.

On this basis one can conclude that strong inconsistencies prevail in Italian transport policies. Emergency actions and crisis responses are the predominant means of coping with the problems of the transport sector. The institutionalization of environmental policies is relatively recent. Environmental departments lack resources. Therefore the decision-making system for incorporation is weak. Furthermore there are contradictions between the sustainability rethoric used in official documents and the current practice. Policy action is still strongly influenced by extending road infrastructure capacities, whilst attempts are made to promote combined transport.

In Italy, environmentalism has a low profile, environmentally more acceptable substitutes are economically weak and there is no pronounced environmental culture in the public administration. Nevertheless the political system offers environmental parties opportunities disproportionate to their share of votes and the regional level, which partly develops more consistent policies, has gained in strength. This suggests that there is some hope for policy change building on such strengths and derived from the weaknesses of public administration and the crisis of the Italian Transport sector.