Italy Checkup

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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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