The Kyoto protocol to reduce greenhouse gases came into force at midnight on Tuesday 15 February. But four European Union countries, including Italy, have yet to receive approval for their plans to reduce the polluting cases to their 1990 levels, as agreed under the Kyoto protocol. EU member countries have had to submit their detailed plans to an EU commission for approval. The commission maintains that the Italian plan is not sufficiently detailed.

Gas emissions in Italy have doubled since the signing of the protocol in 1997, when a reduction of 6.5 per cent was required to return the country to 1990 levels. Now a reduction of 13 per cent will be necessary to meet the target.