Unlike other large European countries (Germany, France, the UK and Spain), Italy does not have a national economy-wide emissions reduction target in addition to its contribution to the EU target. In March 2022, Italy’s Plan for the Ecological Transition (PITE) was adopted, which includes a non-binding emissions reduction goal by 2030 of 51% below the 1990 levels.1
Italyʼs total GHG emissions
excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr
- 1.5°C compatible pathways
- Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
- Current policy projections
- 1.5°C emissions range
- Historical emissions
By synthesising the sectoral targets found in Italy’s National Energy and Climate Plan from 2019 (NECP), a target of 37% below 2005 levels by 2030 (excluding LULUCF) can be derived, corresponding to a 30% emissions reduction by 2030 below 1990 levels. The 2021 Economic and Finance Document from the Finance Ministry shows an updated projection, based mainly on updated drivers (GDP and population), leading to higher reduction cuts than the NECP target, equivalent to a 49% emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030, and a 42% emissions reduction below 1990 levels by 2030.2
Both the current NECP target and the goal declared in PITE appear to be incompatible with Paris Agreement 1.5°C pathways. To align with a 1.5°C pathway, Italy needs to reduce its emissions by 61-71% below 1990 levels, to a level of 149-201 MtCO₂e/yr in 2030, excluding LULUCF.
1 Government of Italy. Plan for the Ecological Transition. 2021.
2 Ministry of the Economy and Finance of the Republic of Italy. Annex to the Economics and Finance Document 2021. 2021.
3 Group of Seven. Carbis Bay G7 Summit Communiqué. GOV.UK. 2021.
4 Government of Italy. STRATEGIA ITALIANA DI LUNGO TERMINE SULLA RIDUZIONE DELLE EMISSIONI DEI GAS A EFFETTO SERRA. 2021.
5 ACEA. 2022 Progress Report – Making the transition to zero-emission mobility. 2022.
6 EEA. EEA greenhouse gas data viewer. European Environmental Agency Data Viewer 2021. (Accessed: 25th January 2021)
7 European Commission. Road transport: Reducing CO2 emissions from vehicles. 2020. Available at: ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/transport/vehicles_de. (Accessed: 15th January 2020)
8 Government of Italy. Italy. 2020 National Inventory Report (NIR). (2020).
9 Instituto Superior per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale. Indicators of efficiency and the decarbonization of the national energy system and the power sector. 2022.
10 European Commission. Commission Staff Working Document Impact Assessment Report. 2021.
11 Eurostat. Final energy consumption by sector – Italy. 2022.
12 International Energy Agency. Energy data and statistics. 2021. Available at: www.iea.org/data-and-statistics/data-tables?country=ITALY. (Accessed: 2nd February 2020)
13 European Commission. COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT Assessment of the final national energy and climate plan of Italy. 2020.
14 Government of Italy. Executive Summary- National long-term strategies: Italy. 2021.
15 European Commission. 2050 long-term strategy. 2021. Available at: ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/strategies/2050_en. (Accessed: 18th May 2021)
16 Government of Italy. Italian Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan. 2019.
17 European Commission. Italy draft national energy and climate plan. 29–30. 2019.
18 IEA. Renewables 2021 Analysis and forecasts to 2026. 2021.
19 Reuters. Italy clinches gas deal with Algeria to temper Russian reliance. Reuters. Available at: www.reuters.com/business/energy/italy-signs-deal-with-algeria-increase-gas-imports-2022-04-11/ (2022).
20 ISPRA. Italian Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2019. 2021.
21 Government of Italy. Italian Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990-2020: National Inventory Report 2022. 2022.
22 IEA. Global EV Data Explorer. IEA. 2022.
23 World Bank. GDP per capita (current LCU). The World Bank. 2021.
24 Gazzetta Ufficiale Della Repubblica Italiana. Decreto Del Presidente Del Consiglio Dei Ministri 6 Aprille 2022. Riconoscimento degli incentivi per l’acquisto di veicoli non inquinanti. 2022.
25 See assumptions here: 1p5ndc-pathways.climateanalytics.org/methodology/#ita-ndc
26 Electric or hybrid vehicles with off-vehicle charging, powered by methane and hydrogen, and electricity and methane in the case of buses.
27 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available, thus we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.
A full fair share contribution will require Italy to provide substantial support to other countries to reduce emissions beyond its domestic emissions.
Under 1.5°C compatible cost-optimal pathways, GHG emissions excluding LULUCF in Italy would be around 33 MtCO₂e/yr by 2050, approximately 94% below 1990 levels. Emissions reductions to get there would be driven primarily through the decarbonisation of the energy sector.
- As of 2021, natural gas accounted for half of the electricity generation in Italy, while coal and oil together contributed about 14%. Renewable energy, mostly hydropower and solar, constituted the rest of the power mix in 2021.
- To be on a 1.5°C compatible pathway, Italy would need to move away from fossil fuels, and increase renewable energy in the power mix, to reach a share of 82-87% by 2030 and 100% by 2040.
- The carbon intensity of the power sector under 1.5°C compatible pathways would be reduced from 260 gCO₂/kWh in 2019 to 60-70 gCO₂/kWh by 2030 (a 75-76% reduction below 2019 levels).
- Buildings is the third-largest emitting sector in the country, with energy consumption in this sector mostly dominated by fossil gas (around 50% in the residential sector and 39% in the service sector).
- 1.5°C compatible pathways show that direct CO₂ emissions should be halved from current levels by 2030 and the buildings sector should be fully decarbonised in the late 2040s. This could be made possible through increasing the electrification rate of the sector, to 48-50% of the sector’s final energy consumption by 2030 from its 2019 level of 28%.
- The industry sector’s emissions have fallen from 1990 levels as a result of the severe economic slowdown in 2009 following the global financial crisis, that was further exacerbated in 2013 by a recession in the Italian economy. While the industry sector’s emissions have been decreasing in the past decade, the sector is still heavily reliant on natural gas (around 35% of the final energy mix).
- Under 1.5°C compatible pathways, the share of electricity would need to increase and replace natural gas reaching up to 50% of the consumption by 2030.
- Transport is the biggest emitting sector in Italy. Although emissions have been decreasing in the past decade, the sector’s energy mix is still overwhelmingly dominated by oil.
- Decarbonisation of the sector could be driven by a ramp-up of electrification, which currently accounts for less than 5% of the transport mix, to an upper bound of 57% by 2030, while pathways with lower electrification see a higher deployment of biogas. Depending on the scenario, the electrification of transport could reach up to 75% by 2040. All scenarios foresee a significant drop in transportation energy demand.
- In 2021, Italy ranked 12th in the EU in terms of the percentage of electric passenger cars (EVs) registered, with less than 10% market share (both battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).5 To be compatible with 1.5°C, direct CO₂ emissions from transport should decrease by 51-67% by 2030 compared to 2019. According to ECCO’s estimates, this reduction is equivalent to the purchase of between 13-18 million battery electric car vehicles, about four times the NECP target (4 million) and about three times the PITE target (6 million).