This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Italy Country Manager Andrea Bruno
Extreme Weather Events, Almost One Per Day in 2021, Show Italy’s Unpreparedness and Mismanagement
Italy has seen a sharp increase in natural disasters with more than 1,400 extreme weather events registered in 2021 (+65%), including floods, storms, heatwaves, and fires. This is what emerges from the analysis Coldiretti has done on European Severe Weather Database (ESWD) data. According to the analysis, the turnover of droughts and floods has triggered about $14 billion in losses over 10 years, through the reductions in agriculture production and damages to infrastructure. Hydrogeological instability is getting worse because of extreme events and uncontrolled soil exploitation. Extreme climate events have been almost one per day in 2021. The Lazio region is among the most harshly hit by intense rain, hailstorms have been frequent in Veneto, and wind storms at more than 90 km/h speed have taken place Sardinia.
This past summer, Italy experienced extreme heatwaves, particularly in Southern regions of the country. In Sicily the temperature reached 48.8 °C, smashing the country’s previous highest recorded temperature. Similar in Greece and Turkey, all of Southern Italy was devasted by wildfires. Areas including Sicily, Calabria, and Puglia suffered some of the more severe blazes with more than 300 fires recorded over a 12-hour period. Thousands of acres of land and National Parklands burned.
Italy was not prepared for the management of such numerous and intense weather events in such a short timeframe. Public opinion accused the central government of delays in sending the reinforcements to help fight the fires. Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced a national emergency plan establishing a program of compensation for those affected and a reforestation strategy. However, this was too little, too late. Most of the fires had human origins but prevention activities, monitoring, and maintenance were lacking.
Policies to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events are absent in Italy. Programs which led to important results in terms of limiting the number of fires were unfortunately abolished in 2013. Activating these programs–or similar ones–would effectively strengthen the resilience of people and territories where extreme events might take place.
Current ability of the country to adapt to extreme weather conditions it faced in 2021:
Rating: * Unprepared
Four Stars (****): Outstanding
Three stars (***): Good
Two stars (**): Fair
One star (*): Unprepared
Contact: Roberto Cingolani, Ministro della Transizione Ecologica