Rome, 15 February 2019
How polluted is the air in our cities? How can urban areas help to combat climate change? Is Italy ready for the challenge of redesigning our cities to promote new electric, light, shared mobility? These are the issues that take centre stage in the new edition of Treno Verde, the campaign by environmental association Legambiente and the Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Group, with the patronage of the Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea Protection, which is once again on track in Italy with a very specific mission: designing a future with zero emission mobility. A twelve-stage journey, from Palermo to Milan, to bet on a winning model: incentivising sustainable mobility and reducing pollution (according to the European principle of “the polluter pays”), which focuses on intermodality and electric power, starting from public transport – shared mobility.
The new aspects of this 31st edition of the Treno Verde were described this morning during a press conference at Termini station in Rome, given by Stefano Ciafani, the national president of Legambiente and Gianfranco Battisti, the CEO of FS Italiane, in the presence of the Environment Minister, Sergio Costa.
The locations visited on the tour by the environmental convoy will be: Palermo (from 18 to 20 February); Bari (from 22 to 24 February); Napoli Centrale (from 26 to 28 February); Roma Termini ( 2 to 4 March); Pescara (from 6 to 8 March); Arezzo (from 10 to 12 March); Civitanova Marche (from 14 to 16 March); Rimini (from 18 to 20 March); Padova (from 22 to 24 March); Genova Piazza Principe (from 26 to 28 March); Torino Porta Nuova (from 30 March to 1 April) and Milano Porta Garibaldi (from 3 to 5 April).
“We have a unique opportunity to take firm steps away from polluting methods of transport, fight back against climate change, reduce pollution at a local level and make our cities more liveable,” says Stefano Ciafani, the national president of Legambiente. “But brave decisions must be taken at a systemic level, which so far has not happened. Local policies can definitely make an important contribution in changing citizens' behaviour, as the Municipality of Milan proved when it created its B and C areas, by which it invests in public transport by penalising the use of private cars. But we will not win this challenge without ambitious national policies. The current government is not breaking enough with the past, as is shown by the latest budget law,” continues Ciafani. “Resources that are traditionally allocated to roads and motorways have not been transferred to urban areas to relaunch a “rail cure” for public transport and to strengthen rail transport for commuters; we have witnessed the saga of the eco-tax on polluting cars, which ended up being reduced, and we have seen an absence of incentives for people who want to scrap polluting cars without buying another to reduce the (record) number of private cars on the road, so as to practice shared mobility, or buy e-bikes and other electric vehicles such as tricycles or quadricycles, which are currently excluded.”
“Environmental, social and economic sustainability,” stressed Gianfranco Battisti, the CEO of FS Italiane, “is the fundamental value underlying our industrial processes and which are projecting the group towards a greener future, more aimed at the sustainable development of cities and the country's large urban areas. That is why innovation and technology, which are essential in the sustainable development of the areas, including the more peripheral ones, are the core themes of the 2019 edition of Treno Verde. They constitute the fulcrum of the ideas and the projects of the start-ups which are present on board. It is both vital and important to create a sustainability culture and put it at the centre of industrial projects, and indeed it is one of the main pillars of the business plan that we are putting together. As well as the train, the ecological means of transport par excellence, we are also working to turn stations into integrated mobility hubs, where people can find a growing number of services that can meet their daily needs. With this in mind, we are adopting innovative and cutting-edge technologies when we build new railway infrastructure and when we carry out maintenance on existing infrastructure. We are using green bonds, environmentally-sustainable financial instruments, to buy new regional Rock and Pop trains, which have been in use since last spring and are made using a large percentage of recycled material - a figure approaching 100%. They will improve the travel experience, taking it up to the level of the Frecciarossa trains. Being guided by sustainability, which directs our daily work, has meant that the FS Italiane Group, an important industrial group in Italy, has been able to raise funds in the financial market at very competitive rates.”
Everyday people and students, as in previous editions, will be able to come on board the Treno Verde to visit the educational, interactive exhibition set up in the four carriages. It will enable them to come into immediate contact with the challenges we face in order to see the end of the fossil fuel era and provide an effective response to the dramatic nature of climate change. The exhibition, which is free to visit, will be open for pre-booked school visits from 8:30am to 2pm from Monday to Saturday, and from 4pm to 7pm for all visitors. On Sundays the Treno Verde is open from 10am to 1pm. The first carriage will focus on the dangers of atmospheric and noise pollution, and also on how transport has an impact on our lives and on the climate. The second carriage will look at innovative zero emission and inter-modal solutions, with best practices from cities in Italy and around the world. The same carriage will host Play Mobility, the educational project from the Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane Group that is available to all the classes that visit the Treno Verde. The third carriage, entirely fitted out by Ecopneus, will present the importance of recycling and reusing tyres for street furniture, road surfaces and many other solutions that allow us to recycle this material giving it a second life. Finally, in the fourth carriage – where, as every year, conferences, debates and workshops will be held – it will be possible to reflect on how people can promote this change personally, through shared mobility and good practices relating to it.
On board the Treno Verde, at every stop it makes, FS Italiane and Legambiente will host the most innovative ideas dealing with sustainable and intermodal mobility. Some of the projects have been executed by the FS Italiane Group staff, through a call for ideas made by the company, whereas others come from the world of start-ups. These include nugo, the FS Italiane Group app that can be used to buy, in just one transaction, journey solutions that integrate different transport methods: from trains to planes, from buses to city metro systems, from ferries to car and bike sharing.
The Treno Verde will also host the best entities in Italy working on environmental sustainability, such as the Ecopneus consortium, the main partner of the Treno Verde; the sustaining partners EnelX and Ricrea; the partners Bosch, Iterchimica, Montello, Valorizza (brands owned by Studio SMA and Gemmlab); the technical partners Con.Tec, Ecoplus, 100% Campania - Formaperta and such as the experience of the start-up partners Lime and Movicoin. The media partners of the environmental train's tour is Nuova Ecologia. The carriages are fitted out by Rome's Accademia delle Arti e Nuove Tecnologie.
When it comes to environmental pollution, Legambiente brings to attention the fact that Italian cities are still suffocated by smog, as reflected in the figures collected by the environmental association 2018 was a red alert year, which was also marked by Italy's referral to the European Court of Justice because of poor air quality: in as many as 26 provincial capitals the 35-day threshold for exceeding the maximum amount of particulate matter was breached, with the direct effect, for residents, of having to breathe polluted air for around two months during the year. And, unfortunately, things are no better at the beginning of 2019. In the just over 40 days since the beginning of the year, 22 cities have already “used up” half of their 35 days when pollution exceeds the limits set down by existing legislation (50 microgrammes per cubic metre as a daily average, not to be exceeded more than 35 times a year). Frosinone (Scalo area, 30 days), Turin (Grassi area) and Milan (Viale Marche) with 28 days are the worst cities in terms of exceeding PM 10 levels and they could even exceed the annual limit of 35 days a year over the coming weeks, thus effectively becoming emergency situations; they are followed by Rovigo (centre) with 26 days, Pavia (Piazza Minerva) with 25, Alessandria (D’Annunzio) and Cremona (Via Fatebenefratelli) with 24, Ferrara (Isonzo) and Treviso (Sant’Agnese) with 23. Except for Frosinone (which is in Lazio), all the cities that are already in a smog emergency are in northern Italy, and specifically in the Po Valley.
According to the European Environmental Agency, there are over sixty thousand premature deaths a year in Italy which are attributable to atmospheric pollution (and over 430,000 in the whole of Europe). Road transport continues to represent one of the main sources of atmospheric pollution in urban areas – and private cars are by some distance the means of transport that Italians use most: there are 38 million of them, and they cover 65.3% of overall trip numbers. This is also because the purchase and ownership of diesel cars and diesel fuel are still incentivised, and generate tax benefits: a Euro 0 diesel van or pick-up truck used for work pays less taxes (in terms of ownership and fuel) than a electric-petrol hybrid hatchback.
So as to keep people informed of the problem of atmospheric pollution and promote civic responsibility, as usual accompanying the Treno Verde there will be special scientific monitoring to measure the particulate matter (PM1, PM2.5 and PM10) and traffic flows in the cities where the environmental train stops, in part because of Legambiente's citizen science project Volontari per Natura (local people help by measuring pollution levels and finding solutions). This will be accompanied by a report on the accessibility of our cities for handicapped people. The various stages will also feature flash mobs to protest against the space occupied by private cars, and meetings to focus on specific issues.
There will also be prizes awarded in every city where the environmental train stops for the best practices that have already triggered change in urban mobility. Local authorities, residents, companies and start-ups will also be invited to sign a Commitment to zero emission mobility, agreeing to ten ways to change the look of urban areas and kick-start this revolution, starting from the adoption in every city of ambitious sustainable mobility urban planning: getting around with the most useful means of transport without polluting; encouraging making journeys on foot; reoccupying areas that are reclaimed from cars and redesigning the space as a common good; focussing on safety above all; getting around with various means of transport and shared mobility, to ensure socially sustainable mobility, with zero pollution.