Just one percent of so-called "ecological" taxes paid by Italians and businesses over the past 20 years has been spent on the environment, the study by Cgia di Mestre, the small business association, revealed.
The study showed that in 2011 - the most recent year for which data is available -. €43.88billion of such taxes were collected by the treasury and local authorities, but only €448million was spent on the environment.
Giuseppe Bortolussi, the president of Cgia, said the findings made it difficult to argue that environmental tragedies such as the flash floods in Sardinia are "due to a lack of financial resources".
“The money is there, it's just a pity that it's been used for other things for the past twenty years,” he said in a statement.
The "green" taxes are little known to many Italians, but are included in petrol costs, light and electricity bills, car insurance and other activities deemed to be environmentally damaging.
But rather than the environmental protection they were intended for, the money has been siphoned off to cover other projects, the Cgia said, leaving areas like Sardinia fatally unprepared.