Let’s reverse course for the environment

Eleven million tons of greenhouse gas emissions more than the target that had been set to stay firmly on course for 2030. That was in 2021, and according to Ispra (the Higher Institute for Environmental Protection and Research), this is an unpromising figure for future scenarios.

The numbers of this rising trend again were made public online in recent days through Ispra's National Inventory 2023, which draws the global and detailed picture of the Italian situation on greenhouse gas trends from 1990 to 2021, with the aim of monitoring the effects of the National Energy and Climate Plan.

What comes out is this: after the setback that had occurred in the year of the pandemic and lockdown, in Italy over a 12-month period values increased by +8.5 percent.

This is an extremely worrying figure. Although, it should be noted, it is good to find that compared to 1990, greenhouse gas emissions in our country have decreased by 20% thanks to the growth of energy production from renewable sources, such as wind and hydro, energy efficiency in the industrial sector and the shift to the use of fuels with lower carbon content.

Actions that today, however, are no longer enough. The 2021 target has vanished, and the estimates prepared by the Institute's experts are not rosy: the situation looks set to continue along the same path, making scenarios to 2030 unpromising.

What to expect? Little reduction in emissions in the transportation and heating sectors. With a consequent misalignment with the targets set by the Effort Sharing Regulation (the law resulting from an agreement between the negotiators of the European Parliament and the European Council, which provides for emission cuts in a whole range of economic sectors, included in the CO2 trading system and together worth about 60 percent of European greenhouse gas emissions; the law stipulates that they will have to be reduced by 40 percent compared to 2005 levels), which could exceed 15 million tons in 2030.

Word of caution: reverse course.

Not least because, based on the data already in Ispra's possession, the estimate is that the full 2022 picture will give a new, albeit slight, increase in emission levels of +0.1 percent, compared with a projected increase in GDP of +1.7 percent. Once again, the biggest responsibility lies with the transport sector for +5.5 percent and the energy sector (+9.6 percent), while the other sectors show marked reductions in emissions, especially in heating (-11.3 percent) and industry (-5.9 percent).

As for the future, Ispra stresses in its report that Italy from 2013 to 2020 has met its assigned reduction targets. "A result," it states, "due both to the policies and measures adopted and to the different cycles of economic crisis, connected to global economic dynamics. Despite this, the transport and civil sectors do not show significant emission reductions. "They are still too small, leading Italy to remain above targets throughout the 2021-2030 decade: according to the objectives proposed by the European Commission at 2030 Effort Sharing emissions greenhouse gases should reduce by 43.7 percent compared to 2005 levels, while our scenarios show us a reduction of less than 30 percent," the Institute concludes.

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