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.

Learn More

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

Learn More
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.


Italy Leading Research Study

Research Study: “Italy’s National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (NAS),” Italian Ministry for Environment, Land, and Sea (IMELS), Higher Institute for Environmental Research and Protection (ISPRA) and the Euro-Mediterrenean Center on Climate Change (CMCC) 2014

One of Italy’s top research documents on climate change is the National Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change (NAS). Although scattered efforts on climate change adaptation are ongoing since 2010, in a few domains such as agriculture and biodiversity, the NAS provides a national vision for all decision-makers in the form of a reference framework that lists several potential adaptation measures in different sectors. The Italian Ministry for Environment, Land and Sea (IMELS) presented the NAS in October of 2014. It was then legally adopted in June 2015.

The process that ultimately produced this document started in 2013 when IMELS partnered with two Italian research centers, the Higher Institute for Environmental Research and Protection (ISPRA) and the Euro-Mediterrenean Center on Climate Change (CMCC). Together they provided the technical and scientific background of present and future climate change impacts in the Italian peninsula with respect to different aspects and sectors. Following consultations with government and non-governmental stakeholders, they produced a list of action items for each sector with the ultimate goal to inform local, regional, and national decision makers and to facilitate the identification of the most appropriate adaptation measures. The four main objectives for the NAS are to:

1. Improve the current knowledge on impacts due to climate change
2. Describe the vulnerability, adaptation options and synergy opportunities for both natural and socio-economic systems
3. Raise awareness and establish a communication platform to promote dialogue among relevant stakeholders
4. Disseminate tools to help decision-makers identify the best adaptation measures


The NAS Study identified potential impacts on Italy from climate change including the following:

  • Potential increase of pressure on water resources, with reduced water availability especially in the summer and southern regions as well as on small islands
  • Potential changes to the hydro-geological equilibrium that will increase the incidence of landslides and flash floods. The geographical area subject to the highest hydrogeological risk is the flatland surrounding the Po river, the Alps, and the Appennini mountain range
  • Potential soil degradation with an increased risk of erosion and desertification especially in the areas of southern Italy
  • Increased risk of wildfires and droughts in forested areas, especially in the Alps and Sicilia and Sardinia islands
  • Increased risk of biodiversity loss, especially in mountainous areas
  • Increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion due to extreme weather events and sea-level rise
  • Potential decrease of agricultural productivity especially for crops like wheat, fruit, olive trees, vines, and corn. In southern regions this trend is likely to be exacerbated by diminished irrigation rates
  • Potential negative health impacts, especially for vulnerable populations, due to an increased rate of diseases as a consequence of heat-related illnesses, air pollution, and floods
  • Potential negative impacts on the Italian economy due mainly to a decrease in hydro-electrical energy production, shrinking of the tourism sector in both winter and summer, productivity reduction in the agricultural sector, and negative impacts on urban and rural infrastructures

For every sector, actions proposed include:


  • non-structural measures which include laying the ground for planning, management, stakeholders collaboration and communication platforms
  • green measures such as relying more heavily on ecosystem services, improving the strength of natural barriers and buffer zones
  • infrastructural measures which refer to structural changes and interventions to make infrastructure more efficient
  • short and long-term measures: the former to be implemented by 2020 and latter to be implemented after 2020
  • cross-sectoral measures to take advantage of synergies.


The NAS is meant first and foremost for regional and local authorities that are entrusted with the implementation of local adaptation action plans. Since its adoption in late 2015 the document has been well received. Some Italian Regions like Sardinia have already assigned the implementation of the NAS to the local Environment Department (Assesorato della difesa dell’ambiente). Other entities have promoted projects to further explore particular issues in a specific geographical area or a specific sector. Examples include the Aquor project that focuses on water conservation and aquifer preservation, and the project PALMO, which looks in depth at adaptation in areas between the Mediterranean sea and the Appennini mountain range. Lastly, since the approval of the NAS, the number of Italian cities who joined the Mayor Adapt European network went from 30 in 2014 to over a 100 in 2016, including some large cities such as Turin and Florence.

Learn More

To read the NAS in Italian see

The European Union has an entire platform dedicated to Climate Adaptation. To see the report for Italy see

To learn more about the Mayor Adapt initiative see

Italy Emissions Reduction Policy

Italy: The Energy Efficiency Scorecard and the Conto Termico

According to the International Energy Efficiency Scorecard (IEES) Italy ranked second for its energy efficiency policies and programs in both 2014 and 2016. Two key policies put in place by the Italian government are the energy efficiency certificate (EEC) trading scheme that targets energy service companies (ESCO) entities and the Conto Termico, that targets the building sector. For the purpose of this report the EEC trading scheme will be analyzed.

Energy efficiency certificates, also known as white certificates, impose energy saving targets on energy companies and allow the trade of energy savings certificates between high and low performers. In other words, it gives incentives to energy companies to identify and address some of the market failures that occur in the markets for energy-efficiency.

From 2006 to the end of 2013 the program released 23,479,144 EEC saving a total of 17,646,778 million tons of oil equivalent in primary energy. Until 2012, most of the savings occurred within the residential and commercial sectors. However, starting in 2012 the industrial sector is the one providing the most savings, accounting for 62% of total savings in 2015.

The EEC mechanism is the key policy tool to reach the 20% reduction in energy use by 2020 as mandated by the European Union (EU): the EEC will account for about 60% of the required savings.
The EEC policy was first implemented in the UK in 2002 and then other countries such as Italy and France adopted similar schemes in 2005 and 2006 respectively. These are national policies that vary across countries in terms of target, eligible projects, enforcement mechanism and overall governance. Thus, the high degree of flexibility in terms of target and governance allows any country to set up similar schemes to achieve national energy efficiency goals.

In Italy, the energy efficiency certificate scheme was put in place in 2004 by the Italian government through a Ministerial Decree. Subsequent amendments followed in 2009 and 2012 to increase the energy savings goal, update technical regulations, and expand the coverage to include large projects. Over time the government revised the target for the EEC system to mandate more stringent goals and raise the bar for energy efficiency savings even higher. For example, if in 2013 total energy savings goal is 5.51 million total, for 2016 the figure is 9.61, over a 40% increase.

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Italy Ratification Status

Possibility of Ratification by 2018: Medium

On the 22nd of April 2016, 177 countries signed the Paris Agreement, the product of the COP21 in December 2015. Two months later, there are only 17 countries that have ratified it, making it effective in their national law. No coincidence that these countries, that promptly have ratified it, are also those that, despite their minimum contribution to global emissions, are most exposed to the impacts of the ongoing anthropogenic climate change.

Italy is not present in this group of virtuous countries and unfortunately does not appear either in the group of countries that have promised to ratify by the end of the year. When will Italy ratify the Paris Agreement? The current Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, in his speech during the signing ceremony on April 22nd spoke about responsibility towards future generations and about the need for collective and shared action, talked about the importance of the political message that has been launched with the signing. He also declared that the content of the Agreement will be treated as a priority in the definition of national policies, policies at EU level and of the G7. Unfortunately, he did not speak about either ratification or implementation.

How would be it ratified? The ratification process of an international treaty in Italy is done formally by the President of the Republic, as it is written in art. 87 of the Italian Constitution, but it is the government who actually ratifies. In the case of the Paris Agreement, it would be the Minister of Environment who would sign to ratify it. The Italian Constitution also provides for the two Chambers of the Parliament to authorize the ratification of an international treaty when necessary.

What would be a roadmap for Italy after the ratification of the Paris Agreement? The Sustainable Development Foundation has outlined some scenarios for Italy in line with the commitments made in Paris: to fulfill the target of +2° C by 2020, Italy should cut its emissions by 30%, using 1990’s levels as the baseline, then further reduce them by 38% by 2030, and by more than 70% by 2050. To achieve the target of +1.5° C, the reductions are expected to be 38% by 2020,  60% by 2030, and 90% in 2050.

Submitted by Climate Scorecard Country Manager Silvia Tomasi


Il 22 aprile 2016 177 paesi hanno firmato l’Accordo di Parigi, prodotto della COP 21 del dicembre 2015. Ad oggi, due mesi dopo, sono solamente 17 i paesi che l’hanno ratificato, rendendolo così effettivo nelle proprie legislazioni nazionali. Non a caso questi celeri paesi, fra cui Tuvalu e Palau, sono anche quelli che, nonostante contribuiscano in minima parte alle emissioni globali, rischiano di più per gli impatti del cambiamento climatico antropico in atto.

L’Italia non è presente in questo gruppo di paesi virtuosi e purtroppo non compare nemmeno nel gruppo di paesi che si sono impegnati a ratificare entro la fine dell’anno. Quando ratificherà? L’attuale primo ministro, Matteo Renzi, nel suo discorso durante la cerimonia di firma dell’Accordo di Parigi il 22 aprile 2016 parla di responsabilità verso le generazioni future e della necessità di un’azione collettiva e condivisa, parla dell’importanza del messaggio politico che si lancia con la firma dell’Accordo. Dichiara inoltre come il contenuto dell’Accordo verrà considerato come una priorità nella definizione di politiche nazionali, a livello di UE e di G7. Non parla purtroppo né di ratifica né di implementazione.

Come dovrebbe avvenire la ratifica? La ratifica di un trattato internazionale in Italia avviene formalmente da parte del Presidente della Repubblica, come previsto dall’articolo 87 della Costituzione italiana, ma sostanzialmente del governo, per mano del ministro competente. La Costituzione italiana prevede inoltre che siano le Camere ad autorizzare la ratifica di un trattato internazionale quando occorra.

Quale futuro aspetta l’Italia dopo un’eventuale ratifica dell’Accordo di Parigi? La Fondazione Sviluppo Sostenibile ha delineato degli scenari per l’Italia in linea con gli impegni presi a Parigi: per rientrare nell’obiettivo dei +2°C, per il 2020 l’Italia dovrebbe ridurre le sue emissioni del 30% usando come baseline i livelli del 1990, diminuendole ulteriormente del 38% al 2030 e di oltre il 70% entro il 2050. Per raggiungere l’obiettivo dei +1,5°C invece le riduzioni dovrebbero essere del 38% entro il 2020, del 60% al 2030 e del 90% al 2050.