Italy

   

Environmental Policies

#28
Key Findings
Despite a strong renewable-energy record, Italy falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 28) with regard to environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.7 points relative to 2014.

Although incentives for solar-power deployment have diminished, significant hydroelectric-, wind- and solar-based power generation has driven the country to a renewable-energy share of nearly 35%. The country’s performance with regard to CO2 emissions per unit of GDP is above average, and strong incentives are provided for sustainable house construction and renovation.

Water efficiency and waste management remain serious problems, particularly in the south. However, recycling rates have increased significantly, most recently even in southern Italy, which has traditionally lagged. The country has among the highest number of cars per capita in the world, and smog, particulate matter, poor air quality and traffic jams increasingly undermine the quality of life.

The country has been supportive of international environmental regimes, including the Paris climate accords. The country joined the anti-coal alliance at the 2017 UN Climate Change Conference, declaring it would phase out coal use by 2030.

Environment

#28

How effectively does environmental policy protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment?

10
 9

Environmental policy effectively protects, preserves and enhances the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 8
 7
 6


Environmental policy largely protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 5
 4
 3


Environmental policy insufficiently protects and preserves the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
 2
 1

Environmental policy has largely failed to protect and preserve the sustainability of natural resources and quality of the environment.
Environmental Policy
5
Italy was not an early mover in the field of environmental policies compared to other European and OECD countries, but in a number of aspects its environmental record has significantly improved. For instance, Italy ranks above average in its performances for CO2 emissions in comparison to GDP. In the field of renewable energies, where Italy traditionally fared reasonably well thanks to its large hydroelectric (and geothermic) plants, the promotion of new sources such as solar or wind energy has been very effective in recent years thanks to generous incentives. Because of budgetary constraints (and in part also because of other conflicting environmental reasons such as protection of the landscape) incentives for solar energy have been reduced in the recent years. Nonetheless, the transition toward renewable energy has gained momentum and renewable energy sources now supply between 32% and 35% of total energy demand (data from GSE). Strong fiscal incentives for sustainable house building and renovations have existed for several years. An initial discussion about the return to nuclear energy with the purpose of further reducing CO2 emissions was stopped by the Fukushima disaster.

Forest areas have been growing significantly in recent years and biodiversity is above the European average.

In other dimensions, such as water efficiency and waste management, Italy fares less well. In these fields disparities between northern or central Italy and southern Italy remain significant. Some emergencies in Naples, Palermo and other southern regions have demonstrated in the past years the lower performance of local and regional authorities in environmental matters. The absence or inadequacies of purification plants affects parts of the coastline and rivers.

Recycling rates have increased very significantly in central and northern Italy, but recent ISPRA data also indicates significant improvements in southern Italy where recycling rates had traditionally lagged behind.

Erosion, flood and earthquake prevention should still be a high priority for the government. After the recent 2016 earthquakes, the government is launching a long-term investment policy to promote public and private rebuilding.

Climate change has and will have a huge impact on Italy. The country has among the highest numbers of cars per capita in the world, and this combines with poor short-, medium- and long-haul public transport to make life in cities difficult. It also compromises the transport of goods and persons across Italy. Smog, particulate matter, poor air quality and traffic jams increasingly undermine the quality of life significantly in Italian towns. Erosion is a danger in many parts of Italy. Perhaps more so than any other policy area, the environment demands a stronger strategy and corresponding political action, as Italy is dropping back on the European but also global level for quality of life.

Citations:
http://www.gse.it/it/Statistiche/RapportiStatistici (provides data about renewable energies production in Italy)
http://www.isprambiente.gov.it/it/archivio/notizie-e-novita-normative/notizie-ispra/2015/05/produzione-rifiuti-e-differenziata-i-dati-di-tutti-i-comuni-italiani-sono-online
http://www.asvis.it/rapporto-2017/

Global Environmental Protection

#24

To what extent does the government actively contribute to the design and advancement of global environmental protection regimes?

10
 9

The government actively contributes to international efforts to design and advance global environmental protection regimes. In most cases, it demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, fosters their advancement and initiates appropriate reforms.
 8
 7
 6


The government contributes to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes. It demonstrates commitment to existing regimes and occasionally fosters their advancement or initiates appropriate reforms.
 5
 4
 3


The government demonstrates commitment to existing regimes, but neither fosters their advancement nor initiates appropriate reforms.
 2
 1

The government does not contribute to international efforts to strengthen global environmental protection regimes.
Global Environmental Policy
6
The contribution of the Italian government to international efforts in the field of global environmental protection has been generally positive. Italy has been supportive of coordinated international actions, including the recent COP 21 Paris conference, but in general has not played a significant leadership role. This is due also to the fact that the resources of the Ministry of Environment have been seriously curtailed. Due to the recent economic crisis, the attention of the government and the priorities of the prime minister have been diverted to internal matters, and economic recovery. The June 2017 G7 meeting, chaired by Italy the minister of environment, reaffirmed Italy’s strong support for COP21. At the 2017 Bonn COP23 summit, Italy joined the anti-coal alliance, declaring that it would phase coal out by 2030.
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