Italy Spotlight: Trento Leads in Urban Sustainability

By Climate Scorecard Italy Country Manager Andrea Bruno

In Italy, as described in the graph below, the proportion of the population living in cities has increased progressively, reaching 70.74% in 2019 (World Bank, 2021). Along with the beneficial effects of urbanization, such as job creation and fostered economic growth, urbanization also has resulted in growing environmental pressures, from congestion to air pollution. The role of cities in the transition to energy efficiency is therefore crucial.

In Italy, and especially in its Southern part, cities are running behind other European counterparts in implementing climate plans to achieve the Paris objectives. However, there are frontrunner cities which are aware of the challenge and have in place ambitious programs and targets. As an illustration, in 2015 the new Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy was launched to pursue EU 2030 climate objectives, and 74 European cities have already committed to this strategy (ClimateChangePost, 2017). Among the Italian cities involved, Trento emerged as the most successful, as it is illustrated by the EY 2020 Smart City Index (EY, 2020).

Figure 1 – Top 20 in urban sustainability according to Smart City Index 2020

Source: (EY, 2020)

Trento is indeed the first city in Italy for urban sustainability and it excels in all the three categories in the urban sustainability index: transportation, energy and environment. The city seeks to become one of the most advanced cities in Europe in terms of sustainability. A Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) is the tool Trento is using to reach the city’s climate objectives. In 2020, a 22% reduction in CO2 emissions in relation to 1990 levels was achieved (Figure 2). Figure 3 below demonstrates how this reduction was achieved in different sectors. Trento’s target for 2030 is a 40% emissions reduction reduction, a goal that may increase in order to be compatible with the new 2030 55% reduction EU target.

Figure 2 – Greenhouse gas emissions and final energy consumption by sector

Figure 3 – Greenhouse gas emissions by sector

Source: (Trento Municipality , 2014)

The key actions of Trento’s sustainability plan aimed at achieving the 40% reduction objective by 2030 are (Trento Municipality , 2014):

  • E-Trento – aimed at making Trento a smart city in the areas of health and wellbeing, energy efficiency, integrated tourism and mobility. Steps to achieve this goal include the development of low energy consumption housing and the use of renewables such as solar PV, solar thermal or biomass.
  • Urban mobility plan – citizens will always have the option to choose an alternative mean of transport to the car through modern public transport and pleasant routes for pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Zero-waste project – actions for an integrated waste management system are being applied. As an illustration, door to door waste collection has been implemented all over the city.
  • Communication Plan – The plan is aimed at keeping citizens well informed regarding the sustainability efforts taken by city government.

To conclude, the example of the city of Trento should be followed by many other cities in Italy, and more collaboration at municipality level would be beneficial, especially for the South of Italy, which is lagging behind according to most sustainability indicators.


Roberto Cingolani, Ministro della Transizione Ecologica



APRIE, 2021. Piano energetico ambientale provinciale 2021-2030 , Trento : s.n.

ClimateChangePost, 2017. Planning for climate change in Italian cities: barriers, opportunities and future perspectives.

European Commission , 2021. 2030 Climate & Energy Framework. [Online] Available at:

EY, 2020. Smart City Index 2020 Sostenibilità, s.l.: s.n.

Trento Municipality , 2014. Covenant of Mayors: the sustainable energy action plan of Trento municipality, Trento: s.n.

World Bank, 2021. Statista. [Online] Available at:


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