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Brief description:



Italy ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 as an Annex 1 Party, with a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6.5% below base-year (1990) levels from 2008 to 2012.

Among OECD countries, Italy is one of the least energy intensive and its reductions target is seen as ambitious. By setting this goal, however, the country is underlining its commitment to tackling the long-term consequences of climate change.

Italy has an 85.6% dependence on energy sources from abroad. The residential and public sectors account for 30% of energy demand, with the transport sector using 32% and the industrial sector taking up 28%. Since the 1990s, the country has been steadily reducing its demand for oil – though it still remains the most important source – as it increases its use of natural gas. It supplements oil and gas supplies with electricity imports and some coal use but no nuclear power.

Within the electricity sector, more than 80% of production is provided by thermoelectric power plants, with the rest coming from renewables, such as wind and solar power.


Total GHG emissions (excluding LULUCF) have increased in Italy by 7.1% between 1990 and 2007, from 516 million tonnes to 553Mt per year. CO2 accounted for 86% of total emissions and showed an increase of 9.3% between 1990 and 2007.

In 2007, the transport sector accounted for 23.1% of total GHG emissions.  Italy has one of the world’s highest concentrations of private car per capita, and goods transportation has also shown a pronounced increase in emissions over time. In the same year, the energy sector (including transport) was responsible for 83% of total GHG emissions (10.2% greater than in 1990), followed by agriculture and industrial processes which  accounted for 6.7% and 6.6%, respectively, and waste contributing 3.3%.

Read Italy’s fifth national communication to the UNFCCC here.

Issues and challenges

Between 1971 and 2001 Italy has seen a population increase of 5% and a 36% increase in domestic housing. This has led to a rise in domestic energy demand and the resulting emissions. As stated above, the transport sector is showing significant increases in total emissions, which is a cause for concern for the government. Overall, the energy sector continues to account for the lion’s share of emissions.

Italy lies within the Mediterranean region, which is expected to be particularly prone to the impacts of climate change. A general trend in the region towards a larger population and declining natural resources places it in one of the most vulnerable areas of Europe.

Chief concerns relate to exceptional increases in temperature, a rise in extreme weather events such as heatwaves, droughts and severe rainfalls, and a reduction in annual rainfall and river flow. In Italy, this could mean a decrease in the availability and quality of water. There could be an increase in landslides and flooding in 5% of the country due to severe precipitations, such as in the Alpine and Apennine areas. Other risks include soil degredation and desertification, particularly in the south, and a higher risk of forest fires and droughts – most at risk being the Alpine zone, Sicily and Sardinia.

Such changes would negatively affect ecosystems and biodiversity across the country, and there would also be an impact on agriculture, such as wheat, corn, fruit and vegetables. Climate change is expected to affect human health, including an increase in the spread and occurrence of water and food-borne diseases,and illness and death due to extreme heat, cardio-respiratory diseases from air pollution, and from flood and fire events.

Attempts to quantify the economic impact of climate change suggest significant change would not occur until the second half of the 21st century. However, huge differences are likely to emerge between the north and south of the country.

Government commitments

Italy’s Inter-Ministerial Committee for Economic Planning (CIPE) – chaired by the Ministry of Economy – is responsible for climate change policy as well as the national GHG emissions reduction programme.

As a result of measures brought in after Italy ratified the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, the country believes it has separated economic growth from its GHG emissions. In 2007, it reported a decrease of 1.7% on 2006 levels, and 3.6% on 2005 levels. However, projections suggest an overall rise in emissions in the years ahead, and the country is aware of the need for additional measures in order to meet its 2020 Kyoto target. Such measures are now being assessed for their inclusion in a national climate change strategy.

In mid October 2012, the government released its new energy strategy 2012-2020 for public consultation. This pledged €180 bn for various initiatives, including renewables and energy efficiency, and the sustainable development of hydrocarbon resources.Access the draft Energy Strategy 2012-2020 here

In the long term, Italy has committed to supporting national and international attempts to develop technologies that will aid emissions reductions. It has also stated its aim to implement the Copenhagen Accord agreed at COP15 in December 2009.

In 1994, CIPE approved a national programme for the containment of CO2 emissions by 2000 at 1990 levels. The government has since regularly updated this programme and, after the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, an overall national strategy to meet targets was developed. For Italy to reach its Kyoto target, it will need to reduce emissions by up to 97.6 Mt CO2eq per year. It has stated that this will require domestic policies and measures as well as the setting up of an emissions trading system within the EU community.

CCS policy and legal frameworks

As part of the European Union, Italy has an obligation along with other member states to transpose the EU's CCS Directive into its own legal framework by 25 June 2011. The government began the process in September 2009, and Italy was one of several EU states to set up inter-agency working groups to aid the process. It has since successfully transposed the directive into national law as of September 2011. The country now has a number of implementation decrees - including storage permits, transfer of responsibility, financial security and access to transport networks and storage sites - but still needs to finalise the process over 2012-2013.

The Department for EU Policies is now consulting on a draft CCS law, submitted at the end of 2010 by the Economic Development and the Environment ministries. The government intends to consult at a regional level before the law moves to the parliamentary process.

There are currently no publicly available CCS legal and regulatory documents. However, the main provisions of the first draft CCS law (March 2010) included national storage site potential analysis, national register and database establishment for CO2 storage, obligations for operators of CCS storage sites and liabilities during injection, after decommissioning and up to transfer of responsibility.

Consultations with industry and R&D stakeholders on the draft law were held from April to July 2010, eliciting general acceptance. Over the last two years, a number of CCS workshops have also been organised in the country to engage with relevant stakeholders.

Italy was a contributor for the first time to the IEA's regular CCS legal review in May 2011. Read their submission here.

CCS initiatives

In 2007, Italy hosted an international conference on clean coal technologies. The government set out its case for meeting energy demand over 20 years while hitting its Kyoto Protocol target. It pinpointed the need for a technology roadmap for coal combustion and zero emissions, and included CCS in its long-term view. A research fund was mooted to explore national CO2 storage capacity and carry out enhanced coal-bed methane site tests in Sardinia. Read the presentation here.

The current Porto Tolle project, near Brindisi, aims to demonstrate the entire CCS chain. Proposed by Enel, an industrial-scale plant would capture 1 million tonnes of CO2 per year. Through an agreement with Eni, the gas would be injected into the Stogit depleted gas field at Cortemaggiore. In early May 2011, the project applied to the EU’s NER300 scheme for funding. It then discovered that previously obtained approvals had been overturned by Italy’s Court of State. Enel is now deciding whether to resubmit a new project. See project link below for more details, and also links to other CCS projects.

ENEA, Italy’s national agency for R&D into new technologies, focuses on energy and sustainable economic development. It has been hosting the Zecomix project at its research centre near Rome – an initiative to test “zero emission coal mixed technology” with CO2 capture. 2011 ENEA project report here (Italian only).

Other agencies engaged in the research and development of zero emission technologies include the National Research Council (CNR), thermo-electric power plant operator Ansaldo, and the technology agency SOTACARBO.


Italy has a significant potential for deep saline aquifers storage, as the Porto Tolle/Stogit project had hoped to demonstrate. Storage studies are being conducted jointly with Italian geophysical research institutes (including OGSINGV and ERSE.

International co-operation

According to Italy's 5th UNFCCC national communication, the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea has been promoting and supporting programmes of R&D and technology transfer in Asia, the Balkans and the Mediterranean Region. Since 2006, new scientific and technological initiatives have been implemented worldwide in collaboration with universities, research agencies and local institutions. These projects have included carbon sequestration technologies.

CO2 Geonet is a European scientific agency that unites 13 research institutions from seven countries, including Italy’s OGS and the Fluid Geochemistry Group from the University of Rome.  The EU-funded initiative is involved in all aspects of CO2 geological storage and provides scientific research and expertise. Its sixth forum was held in May 2011 in Venice.

The DECARBit project links 21 partners from 10 European countries to fast-track the development of pre-combustion carbon capture technologies for fossil fuel power. The venture is co-funded by its partners – including Italy’s ENEL – and the EU’s FP7 fund. See project link below.

The University of Rome and OGS are partners in the TNO-led European project CO2ReMoVe, which runs until 2011.  The consortium of industrial and research agencies is facilitating the development of reliable and safe long-term CO2 storage. Its research will also underpin guidelines for site certification and help create standards for policy makers, regulators and industry.

Italy is also active in various international fora, such as the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum, the European Technology Platform ZEFFPP, and the International Energy Agency (IEA). It has also taken part in various European Union "framework programme" funded projects.