Italy behind schedule in meeting EU green targets, document shows

By Francesca Landini and Giuseppe Fonte

ROME (Reuters) – Italy needs to invest more and step up efforts to meet a European Union 2030 target for lower carbon emissions, a government document showed, highlighting the country’s challenges to keep up with EU green ambitions.

The Italian government has already found itself at loggerheads with Brussels about several green directives including one regarding energy efficiency of buildings.

In the government document, seen by Reuters, the energy ministry said that current policies would cut emissions in transport, housing, agriculture, waste, services and the energy-light industries by 35-37% versus 2005 levels.

But this is far below a decarbonisation goal of 43.7% by 2030 earmarked for Italy by Brussels last April.

“To comply with the 2021-2030 emission trajectory, which will have to lead to achieving the -43.7% target… it will be necessary to immediately initiate a significant reduction in emissions of more than 30% compared to 2021 levels,” the ministry said.

Among the measures under consideration, the ministry cites incentives to boost home-working across the country to cut emissions from travelling to and from work, as well as using both private and public investment to renovate buildings to make them more energy efficient.

The document said that coal-fired power plants will be shut by 2025, excluding in Sardinia. Coal-fired power made up 7.5% of the country’s total electricity supply last year.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni on Monday voiced Rome’s concerns regarding the potential negative impacts of EU decarbonisation policies.

“It cannot be assumed that we can dismantle our economy and our companies to start the ecological transition… ecological transition and environmental sustainability must go hand in hand with social and economic sustainability,” Meloni said.

Italy is also struggling on energy efficiency with its current policies expected to cut consumption to 100 million tons equivalent of oil (MTOE) by 2030, compared with an EU goal of 94.4 MTOE.

Italy sent its revised national plan for energy and climate to Brussels last week and will hold talks with the European Commission aimed at reaching a binding version by June 2024.

State-controlled energy groups Enel, Eni, Terna and Snam are expected to step up investments in renewables, energy infrastructure, carbon capture and electric mobility to help the country in the transition.

(Editing by Jane Merriman)