FS Italiane: environmental sustainability

Verona, 16 February 2018

We at FS Italiane Group feel a very strong responsibility in regards to environmental sustainability and the challenge to eliminate CO2 emissions into the atmosphere through medium and long term objectives. We are engaged in involving all of the players in the public transport sector so that practical and fully sustainable solutions to mobility requirements of both people and goods, in Italy and in Europe, can be identified as soon as possible. The incorporation of Anas into the Group and membership of the Global Compact are among the steps in this direction”.

Gioia Ghezzi, Chairperson of FS Italiane, stressed this during her speech at the technical panel ‘A sustainable country: investment, insuring for the future 2018 Confindustria General Assembly’, currently underway in Verona. Her speech was devoted to the theme of climate change and the need for Italian businesses to immediately embark on practical measures to eliminate emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

Italy is one of the countries in which climate change is causing extremely significant damage”, stressed Gioia Ghezzi, noting that it is very much in the interests of our country that concrete action is taken at a global level to meet the objectives of the COP21 Paris Agreement: a deal in which 192 countries committed to reducing their own emissions sufficiently to keep the increase in the average temperature of the planet to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The effects of climate change (lengthening of periods of drought, water shortages, extreme precipitation events, heat waves, fires etc.) are in fact generating ever-increasing costs and a progressive loss of competitiveness for production chains and the national economy as a whole: higher direct costs to deal with emergencies, business interruption, increased insurance premiums, as well as more specific effects on the various sectors (agri-foods sector, tourism, logistics, etc.).

Globally, the industrial world has 20-30 years at the most to gradually reduce atmospheric emissions, until they are completely eliminated, and to create carbon negative technologies. If we consider the magnitude of the action needed for such profound changes, which in some cases mean a full review of the entire production chain, the time available is very short. Immediate action is needed,” she continued, highlighting the evaluations by researchers on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Full conversion to zero-emission forms of renewable energy, a modal shift of transportation and logistics towards vehicles with lower emissions, redesigning production cycles to avoid emissions and energy release, and redesigning buildings, not only to avoid energy loss, but also to produce and capture energy. These are the priority areas for action mentioned by Ghezzi: “Businesses must make an immediate and direct commitment, and the Confindustria membership structure can play a fundamental role in this regard for coordination and support”.

These are matters that go well beyond the ethical duty to deal with the issue of sustainable transformation of production chains: “If we want our businesses to still be competitive in 20 years, we have to immediately begin transitioning towards fully sustainable operating models. Businesses are under pressure on three fronts: regulatory, with rules that will gradually become increasingly stringent as the effects of climate change become more obvious and apparent at a political level; from customers, who will be increasingly aware and knowledgeable in their purchasing choices; and from capital investors, for whom sustainability will be even more of a necessary condition for providing funding and, to an even greater extent, for investments in share capitalThe extraordinary success of the recent Green Bond issue by FS Italiane, achieving a rate of return equal to 0.875%, demonstrates that environmental sustainability is a tangible competitive advantage as well as having ethical value”.

In closing, Gioia Ghezzi highlighted the importance of the role that Confindustria can play in pressing the Italian Government to instigate and facilitate change in the near future: making the Italian COP 21 targets explicit, including through regulatory measures; rethinking the system of incentives and disincentives in order to support sustainable production and the transition of businesses – particularly SMEs – which are ready to commit to and invest in the change, to take on a leadership role in Europe for these matters, alongside other countries, such as France, that are showing themselves to be aware and active.