Assopetroli-Assoenergia launches an appeal to make the energy transition gradual and take social impact into account

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The rise in energy prices has structural causes and is the result of years of policies that have discouraged investments in the oil and gas sector. The “Carbon neutrality: what is the price for Italy” conference organized by Assopetroli-Assoenergia clearly highlighted that the transition must be gradual and is only possible if there are reliable indications for the resulting scenario

The energy transition must be gradual and must take its social impact into account. This is the message that emerged from the “Carbon neutrality: what is the price for Italy” conference organized last 20 October by Assopetroli-Assoenergia during the AGM. The event was attended among others by: the President of Assopetroli-Assoenergia, Andrea Rossetti; the Under-secretary of the Ministry for the Ecological Transition, Vannia Gava; the Public Affairs Director of Eni, Lapo Pistelli; the head of the institutional relations of Anfia, Fabrizia Vigo; the permanent representative c/o international organizations in Paris, Ambassador Antonio Bernardini. Reports indicated how the petroleum value chain oil and the internal combustion engine car sector must be allowed to take part in the energy transition in transport fields. Otherwise, there is the risk that the transition itself will fail. In particular, the President of Assopetroli, Rossetti, outlined while discussing the current crisis in energy supplies and consequent price increases, how Italy is facing as regards the structural component of energy prices in a situation of desired scarcity resulting from stratification of policies that over the years have discouraged investments in oil and gas with the consequence that supply is unable to meet demand”. According to Rossetti, in the micro-economic dimension of fuel distribution, “we are facing a situation of extremely high price increases” which also generate “extremely negative” consequences on the distribution sector. In his report, Rossetti sought to emphasise the significant problem of fuel taxation which has a major impact on the price trend with the fixed amount for excise duty and the percentage for VAT. Precisely in times of price increases such as these, Rossetti feels that it generates a substantial source for increased tax revenues. “It remains important to focus on the structural dimension of commodities,” added Rossetti, who feels that expensive energy once again highlights the difficulty of taking action to eliminate environmentally harmful subsidies (Sad) and efforts to tackle them. “Taking action at a time like this by increasing the excise tax on diesel and tending towards aligning it with petrol is an untimely manoeuvre, to say the least, and of very difficult economic sustainability,” said the President of Assopetroli. “The issue must be addressed not only gradually but also with the aim of not penalizing more vulnerable sections of the population,” he added.

Moving on to the wholesale distribution sector, this sector is experiencing difficulties in this situation, according to the President of Assopetroli. In fact, operators only receive payment after 90/120 days and have an average exposure of 3.5 billion euros per month, not to mention approximately 5 million in financial charges and another 5 million in credit risk. Rossetti continued his speech by recalling the policy uncertainty that has now hit the market. “We need a legal and fiscal regulatory environment that is more reliable and more certain, which does not discourage investors from doing their job, even with a view to the transformation,” Rossetti said. “The transition requires industrial reconversion that can only be achieved if there are reliable indications about the scenario we will face afterwards,” he added. “Other policy indications are the rejection of increases in excise duties and caution in the review of the so-called environmentally harmful subsidies, so-called because Italian taxation levels are such as to incorporate all environmental externalities, both local pollution and the emission of climate-altering gases.” Lastly, Rossetti stated that “taxation and its regressive effects must also prompt our sense of responsibility for the likely social impacts”. “If the transition is made without considering this aspect, we won’t be going anywhere,” said the President of Assopetroli, recalling that this “is not a problem that concerns only this or that production sector.” If there is no consent among the population,” he declared, “this path will run aground and we will not obtain the results we must all pursue and safeguard.”

In his speech, the Under-secretary at the Ministry for the Ecological Transition (MITE), Gava, mentioned the vital need to safeguard the economy of the country and the protection of the environment at one and the same time. MITE has changed its identity and has grown, but it has also changed its philosophy: if we want to work as a team, we must talk with the business world to achieve decarbonisation objectives,” he declared. According to Gava, “Strategies are not feasible overnight. We must safeguard the country’s economy as well as its environmental protection and achieve the goals we have set for ourselves on a European scale.” However, “we can’t press too hard on the accelerator otherwise we will crash,” he noted. Technology must help us out of this impasse as the result of investment and research. Our task is to simplify the procedures, tell investors from abroad that it can be done by reducing the time needed for authorizations,” said the Under-secretary. “Next week, there will be a special meeting of the European Council of Ministers to discuss energy price increases but we are already taking a different approach to the Fit For 55 package. Even by saying that we want to stop fossil fuel cars by 2035, we risk boosting the economy of other countries when we have 56% of the car fleet below Euro 4. This is why I say let’s help our industry, let’s help it rejuvenate the car fleet and in the meantime let’s provide funds to help the transition,” Under-secretary Gava concluded.