Italy Subsidies

Italy—14.6 billion Euros in 2016

Italy directly and indirectly subsidized fossil fuels for 14.8 billion Euros in 2016, and 13.2 billion Euros in 2015. Subsidies are given to both production and consumption, which include exemption from paying excises, discounts and discounted financing. The top sector receiving subsidies is transportation.

For the first time, the Italian government proposed an environmental component to evaluate and revise excise taxes as part of the 2012 tax reform. This was a major turning point in the country’s environmental policy because such a tool has enormous potential not only in reducing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions as well as accelerating the shift to a greener energy supply. With article 15 of the 2012 tax reform, the Italian government proposed a revision of accise –or excise- on energy products on the basis of environmental criteria. The idea was to introduce new rates, proportional to generated emissions, which curb the use of dirtier energy sources while incentivizing the use of renewables. This is a very important policy area for Italy because energy production and consumption account for about 60% of all GHG emissions

In March 2014, the law was finally approved and mandated the fiscal revision of excise. A roundtable of experts started in 2015 and in late 2016 the Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea published a report with a detailed description and evaluation of the current environmental impact of each subsidy/excise rate. At last, this catalogue provides some clarity into a very complex and confusing domain. This report is essential because it establishes a baseline of what is currently working and what is not: previously the environmental impact of such subsidies and excises was unknown. Unfortunately, the law has not been implemented yet and fossil fuel subsidies live on.

As part of the European Union and the G20 framework, the Italian government committed to the total phase out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies by 2025. In fact, the EU repeatedly solicited Italy to report on and reduce fossil fuel subsidies by 2020. A harsher request from the EU might convince the Italian government to act.

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Italy Survey

Unlike the rest of Europe, right-leaning Italians are more concerned about climate change (78%) than left-leaning Italians (64%).

In a survey conducted by the research company GfK on behalf of the World Wildllife Fund climate change is one of the most serious environmental issues for 73% of Italians along with air and water pollution. About 88.5% of respondents believe that climate change is man-made while only 6% believe there is no correlation between climate change and human activities. Furthermore, 85% of respondents declared to be open to changing habits in a way that reduces GHG emissions. The openness to change lifestyle and reduce consumption is higher among groups with higher levels of education.

Finally, respondents indicated entities that in their opinion are at the forefront of the fight against climate change: first are environmental organizations (61%), then the EU (36%), and lastly the Italian government (15%) and oil companies (13%) with much lower scores. The survey was conducted on November 7-9 2016 on a sample of 1,500 Italians using CATI CAMI, CAWI (computer-assisted telephone/web/mobile interviewing) methodology.

The Pew Research Center conducted its Global Attitudes Survey (GAS) in the spring 2016 analyzing citizens’ opinion of 10 different European countries, among which were Italy, Spain, France, Germany, UK, Poland, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden. Global climate change was listed as the second major global threat on average, and 72% of Italian respondents listed it as a major threat to their country. Worries about global climate change have increased since 2013, when the percentage was 64%.

A second interesting insight reveals that unlike the rest of Europe, right-leaning Italians are more concerned about climate change (78%) than left-leaning Italians (64%). In Europe, this is only true for Italy and Hungary.

The GAS for Italy was conducted with face to face mode in Italian between April 9 and May 10 2016. The sample size was 1,016.

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To read further on the 2017 GfK survey
To read more about the 2017 Pew survey

Italy Strategies

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.

Italy Renewable Energy

Italy—No 100% 2050 Commitment
Benchmark: 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020

The EU, which is responsible for national environmental policies of member countries including Italy, has not made a commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050. The current EU binding target is 20% final energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020 as set by the EU’s Renewable energy directive. To achieve this, Italy set its own national renewables target at 17% which was reached in 2014.

Italy passed in 2016 two key elements of its renewable energy policy framework. The two policies are “Conto Termico 2.0” and Feed-in Premium for renewable energy sources other than photovoltaic. See below for a description of the Conto Termico policy.

The Conto Termico 2.0 policy renews, expands, and simplifies the mechanism originally introduced in 2012 which provides subsidies for renovations aimed at improving energy efficiency in existing buildings and projects that produce thermal energy from renewable and high-efficiency energy systems. Conto Termico will provide annual funding of 900 million Euros targeting government agencies, private enterprises, and households. Examples of interventions that qualify for subsidies are: improvements to the building envelope, adding building temperature automation systems (which make the management of temperature and air controls much easier and more efficient), turning existing buildings into net Zero Energy Buildings (nZEB), replacement of existing fossil fuel-based thermal systems with renewable sources such as heat pumps, installation of solar thermal and solar cooling.

The entity responsible for the scheme and management of subsidies is Gestore Servizi Energetici (GSE). This policy was adopted by the Italian Government by a Ministerial decree approved in February 2016.

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See the report “Renewable energy in Europe 2017” to learn about EU countries’ renewable energy progress

To read more about Conto Termico 2.0 see the website of the International Energy Agency as well as the GSE web page (in Italian)

Italy Checkup

Italy—Falling Behind

In the Paris Agreement, the European Union (EU), and thus Italy, committed to a reduction of at least 40% of greenhouse gases emissions by 2030 compared to 1990.  In November 2016, the European Commission published the report “Implementing the Paris Agreement: Progress of the EU towards the at least -40% target” which provides insights into the compliance of member countries. According to this report, without additional mitigation initiatives, the EU is expected to fail to meet its target.
In 2015, the EU reduced its carbon emissions by 22% compared to its 1990 baseline, thus meeting ahead of schedule its Kyoto protocol goal of reducing emissions by 20% by 2020. However, the report makes clear how current mitigation policies will fall short of the Paris goal, bringing total reductions by 2030 to only 26%. To accelerate climate mitigation the EU is expected to revise the EU emission trading system, which covers buildings, transportation, waste and agriculture. A new legislative package was presented in July of 2016 that sets new emission targets for Member States.

Compared to other Member States, Italy is in a good position in its emission reductions efforts for sectors like building, transport, waste and agriculture. In 2015, Italy over-delivered, meaning that not only that it met its goal but it further reduced emissions in those sectors by 13% and, according to projections, it will over deliver in 2020 as well by a smaller amount (~5%). Italy seems to be doing well compared to other European countries such as Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark and Finland who are expected to fail to meet their targets.

In a separate policy briefing published in March 2017 by the EU Climate Leader Board, Italy scored 20 out of 27 countries on the Effort Sharing Regulation (ESR), the new legislative package for climate action that is being negotiated between EU ministers and Members of the European Parliament. The ESR is a very important policy as it sets GHG emission targets for all Member States from 2021 all the way to 2030. The five criteria for the evaluation are:

1.    The starting point from which the emission reduction targets are applied
2.    How carbon sinks in the land use and forestry sector are addressed
3.    Whether surplus permits from the EU Emission Trading System (ETS) can be used
4.    Governance system to ensure countries comply with their targets
5.    Whether the ambition level of the 2030 and long-term targets is compatible with the
Paris Agreement objectives.

Italy is in 20th place because it wants to increase the land use loophole and advocates for weakening the starting point by setting it significantly above actual emissions. The country is furthermore not planning to go beyond its domestic 2030 target of 33% emission reductions, nor has it set an adequate long-term target.

Based on these two reports, I think Italy is falling behind in honoring its commitments to the Paris Agreement. In the past it met its GHG reduction targets, but new, more aggressive policies are needed to accelerate climate mitigation to meet the EU’s Paris Agreement 40% threshold by 2030. In fact, Italy’s intention so far is to relax the rules to allow for less-stringent emission targets.

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Italy Emission Reduction Policy

Article 15 of the 2012 Tax Reform Bill  

The Italian government proposed an environmental component for excise taxes as part of the 2012 tax reform. This was a major turning point in the country’s environmental policy because such a tool has enormous potential for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as accelerating the shift to a greener energy supply. With article 15 of the 2012 tax reform, the government proposed a revision of accise—or excise taxes—on energy products on the basis of environmental criteria. The idea was to introduce new rates, proportional to generated emissions, in order to curb the use of dirtier energy sources while incentivizing the use of renewables. This is a very important policy area for Italy because energy production and consumption account for about 60% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

In Italy, the system for taxing energy producers is complex, incoherent, and costly. It includes loopholes that allow for discounts, subsidies, and exemptions. Within the energy supply chain, certain producers benefit from tax exemptions. This is true in particular for suppliers of fossil fuel. These tax exemptions amount annually to 5 trillion Euros. Besides tax exemptions, certain fossil fuels suppliers benefit from federal subsidies that in 2014 equaled 548 million Euros.
By revisiting excise taxes, so that tax rates are proportional to average emissions created, the 2012 policy was intended to disincentivize top polluting suppliers and activities. While pricing out top polluters like coal and oil, the new tax system will incentivize the production of renewables as well as the use of more modern plants that run on natural gas. The second accomplishment of the revised excise policy will be to completely eliminate exemptions to energy products and subsidies from fossil fuel sources. This was intended to reduce energy waste while at the same time making renewable sources more competitive on the market.

Studies show that restructuring energy taxes, expanding the use of other environmentally related taxes, and removing environmentally harmful tax concessions would generate additional revenue that can be reinvested in low-carbon energy sources. In 2010, environmentally harmful tax concessions alone were estimated at 0.2% of GDP.

In March 2014 the law was approved. In late 2016 the Italian Minister for the Environment, Land and Sea published a report with a detailed description and evaluation of the current environmental impact of each subsidy/excise rate. This Report established a baseline of what is currently working and what is not with regard to the environmental impact of such subsidies and excise taxes.  Now the government needs to continue to monitor the implementation of the new law to assess its impact on emission reduction and alternative energy production.

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To read article 15 approved in March 2014 please see

Italy Extreme Weather Event

Storms, Rain and Flooding in Genoa

In mid-October in 2014, strong storms dropped on the city of Genoa an unprecedented amount of rain, causing flooding and landslides. The storm system caused 3 deaths and millions of Euros of damages. There is no current comprehensive national strategy to address the irresponsible soil consumption at the root cause of much of the hydro-geologic risk of many urban centers in Italy.

Over two days in mid-October of 2014, the city of Genoa received 395 mm (15.5 inches) of rain over a 24-hour period. A V-shaped storm—a storm generated between a cold air front and a warm one regenerating itself through convective cycles—settled on the area in the afternoon of October 9th and left on October 11th. Waters from four rivers located in the city flooded while an additional five rivers and creeks flooded the city’s immediate vicinities. Several landslides destroyed homes and interrupted rail and road service.

Three people died and a handful were saved by Firefighter Units and the Civil Protection Units. Hundreds had to leave their homes and schools were closed for many days. Several disruptions occurred throughout the city: many streets and squares were underwater, including one of the busiest train stations, and the beltway connecting the city to highway A12 was thoroughly flooded. In addition, thousands of homes lost power for hours.

During the days after the storm, damages to the entire affected region were estimated at 250 million Euros—25 million solely for the city of Genoa. Forty million Euros were set aside as resources for affected businesses and enterprises. Locally, hundreds of young people called “the angels of mud” volunteered their time and energy to clean streets, stores, and homes.

During the last few years, the Genoa area has experienced many frequent floods including in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Like many other urban and sub-urban centers in the country, Genoa is subject to a high degree of hydro-geologic risk. The wave of rapid urbanization in the post-war era led to constructions on top of creeks and spaces previously claimed by rivers. For example, the Bisagno river was completely covered with cement.

In 2013, the Italian Minister for the Environment proposed a law to reduce the soil consumption of urban areas. The law was revisited and then approved in the lower house in early 2016. Critics affirm that the law as adopted was weaker than what was originally proposed and that it does not offer clear guidelines to address urbanization in a systematic, impactful way.

Italy Media Organizations

Broadcast Media

Scala Mercalli is a TV show entirely dedicated to climate change and its key themes, from water resources to renewable energy, from waste management to responsible land use. The goal of the show is to make climate science and policy accessible to the general audience. In each episode, the host introduces a particular topic, explains the status quo through brief documentaries and ends with experts illustrating alternative policies that are sound from an environmental and sustainability perspective.

The host is Luca Mercalli, the president of the Italian Meteorological Society, who is a climatologist and a journalist. He published several books and won numerous awards for his work on climate change and his efforts to disseminate climate change science and policies to the general public.

Content Sample:

To watch previous episodes visit:

Contact:  The show is owned by RAI – Radiotelevisione Italiana SPA. Via Mazzini, 14 – 00195 Roma.

Print Media

La Repubblica is a national newspaper with Mario Calabresi as editor in chief. Daniele Vulpi, Gaia Scorza Barcellona, Alessandra Roncato, Tiziano Toniutti are the editors responsible for the Environment section. Antonio Cianciullo regularly writes about topics in support of sustainability. Published articles include the impact of Italian legislation that mandated recycling in 1997, where in 20 years the recycling rate reached over 45% and created 155,000 jobs.

Content Sample
Please visit
To read more on recycling in Italy read
To reach use the following email address

Online Media is a web magazine promoting environmental sustainability. Established in 2006, it reports on national and international news regarding energy, transportation, green buildings, smart cities, eco-design, green business, innovation, and the green economy. Over the years it has acquired a very high reputation thanks to a scientific committee that strictly collaborates with journalists to bring interesting articles backed by sound science and data. The editor-in-chief is Mauro Spagnolo, who can be reached at

A recent article explains how the Ministry of the Environment engaged in public consultations on the National Plan for Adaptation: for the month of February stakeholders are invited to comment and give feedback on the document and identify potential barriers hindering the implementation process. The Plan, is a comprehensive strategy to address adaptation across sectors.

Content Sample:
To read more articles online please visit

Contact: To reach the team writing the environmental articles, you can write to

Italy Subnational Best Practices


Emilia Romagna—Emilia Romagna has a comprehensive plan to meet the European targets of 2020, 2030 and 2050 in the transportation, energy, and buildings sectors. Plans in the transportation sector are the most aggressive, with a heavy focus on electric vehicles. Overall goals are:
•    40% increase in electric car registration and 25% increase in hybrid cars registration
•    60% increase in electric buses for local routes
•    Convert 20 to 40% of commercial vehicles to electric vehicles
•    Increase cycling transportation by 20%
•    Double the public transportation on rail by 50%
•    Increase transportation of goods on rail by 10%
Funding for the above initiatives will come mainly from funds set aside at the regional level. Additional contributions will come from the European Union and the Italian government.
Stefano Bonaccini, President of Emilia-Romagna region
Telephone: +39-051 -5275800 ext 5801

Lombardy—Lombardy’s Regional Environmental Energy Program (PEAR) operates within the Regional Development Plan approved in 2013. PEAR will contribute to the transformation of the region’s energy system, mainly with the implementation of the following policies: New buildings and buildings undergoing extensive renovations must comply with “nearly zero-energy building” (NZEB) standards. Such efforts will be recorded and monitored through the Regional Registry of Building Energy. Retrofits of existing public and private buildings to improve energy efficiency are also underway. Other actions include the promotion of energy storage systems for photovoltaic systems, an increase in energy generation from biomass, and support of municipalities to replace public lighting systems. Overall, the Region of Lombardy aims to reduce GHG by at least 80% by 2050 over 2005 levels. The region represents the lion share of Italian GDP, which amounts to 20%.

Claudia Terzi, Governor for the Environment, Energy and Sustainable Development.
Telephone: +39-02-6765-4705


Capannori—A town of 46,000 inhabitants located in the North of Italy, Capannori has one of the highest municipal recycling rates in Europe. This zero waste town is an example of strong policy decisions and community participation achieving groundbreaking results. This model can be easily replicated elsewhere in Italy since 98% of Italian municipalities have fewer than 50,000 inhabitants, accounting for 66% of the total population.

A zero waste strategy was signed in 2007 and since then waste per capita dropped 40%, from 1,92kg to 1,18kg/person/year. In 2014, only 18% of waste produced was landfilled.
Strategies that led to the drastic reduction include:
•    The creation of a door-to-door collection system designed to engage and educate residents on source separation practices.
•    Taking a collaborative approach with community meetings to disseminate information, provide feedback, and distribute free waste separation kits.
•    Household composting
•    Creation of a Reuse Center where items such as clothes, footware, toys, electric appliances, and furniture can be repaired and sold to those in need. In 2012, 93 tonnes of objects were dropped at the center.
•    A grocery store opened in 2009 that sells over 250 locally sourced food and drink products in bulk. The municipality provides small businesses with tax incentives to stock products that could be refilled with customers’ own containers.

Gian Luca Bucci, Office of the Environment, Energy and Toponymy
Telephone: +39-0583-428207


Italian cities, regions and provinces are part of the following associations:

Factor 20 is aimed at formulating a set of tools to support the planning of regional and national policies relating to the reduction of greenhouse gasses, the reduction of energy consumption and the use of renewable energy sources. Visit:

Under 2 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) is a global pact among cities, states, and countries to limit the increase in the global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius—the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. Collectively, 57 jurisdictions from 19 countries and five continents have now signed or endorsed the Under 2 MOU, collectively representing more than $17.5 trillion in GDP and 572 million people. Visit

Conurbant starts from the consideration that EU small towns face strong difficulties in energy management and planning because of their lack of skills and resources, while medium and large cities have a higher responsibility related to their higher density of human activities, and complicated issues of sustainable land use, planning, and mobility. The Conurbant project aims at helping medium-large cities, and the smaller towns in their urban areas, through capacity building using peer-to-peer support and training between less and more experienced municipalities. Visit

C40 is a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change. C40 supports cities to collaborate effectively, share knowledge, and drive meaningful, measurable and sustainable action on climate change. Visit

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To learn more about the Emilia-Romagna commitments under the under2mou, please read

To learn more about Lomabardy’s PEAR plan, please refer to

To read further about Capannori’s waste management achievements please go to and also see “The story of Capannori” by Aimee Van Vliet, Case study #1, Zero Waste Europe, 2013.

Italy Leaders and Opponents

Government Official
Gianluca Galletti
Minister of Environment, Land and Sea

Minister Galletti plays a key role in setting Italy’s environmental policy. He attended the Paris Conference in 2015 as well as the COP22 in Marrakesh in November 2016. He led the Italian government to ratify the Paris Agreement on November 4th 2016. He is particularly interested in the circular economy and the environment-economy nexus.



Climate Program Advocate
Rossella Muroni
National President of Legambiente
Mrs. Moruno is the head of Legambiente, an advocacy group whose aim is to protect the environment and natural resources. The group opposes the use of nuclear energy and fossil fuels while encouraging the use of renewable energy sources. Recently, Legambiente provided the Italian government with a list of 15 measures to green the Italian tax system, increasing the tax burden for polluting activities and incentivizing green options in all sectors, from waste management to transportation.


Climate Program Opponent
Emma Marcegaglia
President of Eni

Marcegaglia is the president of Eni, the leading company that extracts oil on Italian territory. In 2014, Eni paid about 260 million Euros to the Italian government as royalties for oil extraction, representing 65% of all royalties received by the Italian government. Despite Eni’s many sustainability efforts, it has a substantial incentive to keep investing in oil.