Italy: (1) Fully implement the EU Paris Agreement goal of a 40% reduction in GHG by 2030; (2) Eliminate coal from its energy mix and develop a national, comprehensive plan to manage land use change and forestry
Italy, together with the EU has to commit to at least 65% energy reduction compared to 1990 by 2050. If irreversible climate consequences are to be avoided, emissions should peak and then drastically decline by mid-century, in which case a 40% GHG reduction by 2030 is a modest goal. A more aggressive goal would push for more drastic changes sooner. However, achievable commitments are better than bold, unrealistic ones. Ultimately it is more powerful to consistently set goals and achieve them than setting too high a bar that cannot possibly be reached. After all, the EU already envisions a long-term commitment to an 80% GHG reduction by 2050, with an interim goal of 60% reduction by 2040. The fact that these commitments are not yet legally binding in an international agreement is secondary. If the EU will systematically meet the Paris Agreement goal and move forward with its long-term vision of a low-carbon economy it will have showed true leadership and provide a virtuous example for other countries around the world.
To further reduce emissions Italy could eliminate coal from its energy mix and develop a national, comprehensive plan to manage land use change and forestry.
Coal still represents 8% of Italy’s total primary energy supply (TPES). Most of it (80%) is used for electricity generation, where coal constitutes 16% of the mix. Italy imports virtually all of its coal (19.6 million tonnes) from Russia and Africa, thus contributing to Italy’s energy dependence from other countries. Coal is a very dirty fuel and globally it is being replaced with natural gas. Even though coal is expected to decline as old power plants are shut down, a stronger, methodological plan to get rid of it is absent in Italy.
A second area where Italy could strengthen emission reductions is land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF). Land use change and forestry encompass several complex and interrelated aspects of activities such as agriculture (soil used for crop land, or for animal grazing), use of soil for constructing buildings and other infrastructure, and forest management. A comprehensive, long-term vision for land use and forestry has the potential to reduce emissions and increase the size of carbon sinks able to capture emissions. So far Italy’s policies towards these topics are fragmented, sometime absent and overseen by separate entities at the local and national level that do not coordinate efforts. Lack of accountability, knowledge, and resources further weaken initiatives. Results are very poor with soil erosion, contaminated land sites, and sprawling concrete constructions all over the country.