Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Italy
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Italy. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
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Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Italy
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Italy. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:
Loading reading time...
Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Italy
Overview of greenhouse gases and emissions per capita in Italy. Are they prepared to meet net zero targets and invest in the energy transition?
Published:
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What percentage of global greenhouse gas emissions does Italy produce?

Italy produced 0.79% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2020 (the latest date with complete emissions data). This amounted to 352m metric tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, or MtCO₂e. These emissions represented a decrease from 2019 by -9.7%.

In the period from 1990 to 2020 their emissions have decreased by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of -1.1% and Italy has contributed 1.3% of global greenhouse emissions.

CountryItaly
Population59.1m
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in USD$2.1tr
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions in 2020352m
Change in Emissions since 2019-9.7%
Percentage of Total Emissions (2020)0.79%
Rank – Emitters in 202023
Total Greenhouse Gas Emissions since 199014.8bn
Compound Annual Growth – Emissions since 1990-1.1%
Percentage of Total Emissions (1990-2020)1.3%
GDP Per Capita (USD)$35.6k
Emissions Per Capita6.0

In 2020, Italy was the world’s 23rd largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions. The largest emitters in the same period were China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan.

Emissions per capita in Italy – average household carbon footprint

The population of Italy is 59.1m. On a per capita basis, they produce 6.0 tonnes of CO2e per person, placing them 70th out of 191 on emissions produced per capita. The biggest per capita emitters are Qatar, Turkmenistan, Kuwait and Bahrain.

What is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Italy?

Gases

79.9% of emissions in Italy came from Carbon Dioxide (CO2), 12.5% came from Methane (CH4), and 4.5% came from Nitrous Oxide (N2O).

Sectors

The sector that produced the most emissions in 2020 was the energy industry, producing 284m of GHG emissions, constituting 80.6% of total.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were agriculture and industrial processes, producing 9.4% and 5.3% of total GHG in Italy.

Energy

The industry that produced the most energy related emissions was the electricity/heat industry, producing 97.5m of GHG emissions, constituting 27.7% of total emissions.

The second and third largest emitting sectors were transportation and building, emitting 82.8m and 62.2m tonnes of GHG each.

Land Use Change and Forestry

Land use change and forestry (LUCF), such as deforestation and conversion of natural ecosystems to agricultural or urban areas, can have a significant impact on carbon emissions.

  • Trees and other vegetation absorb and store carbon through the process of photosynthesis, and when they are cut down or burned, that stored carbon is released into the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation and other forms of land use change can also reduce the ability of ecosystems to absorb and store carbon in the future. Additionally, the conversion of land for agriculture or urban development can lead to the release of carbon stored in the soil.
  • On the other hand, sustainable forestry practices, such as reforestation and afforestation, can help to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it in trees and other vegetation.

In the case of Italy, LUCF had a positive impact on Italy’s emissions, decreasing their carbon footprint by 12.9m tonnes.

After accounting for land use change and forestry, the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Italy in 2020 was 339m metric tonnes.

How vulnerable is Italy to the impact of climate change?

The Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative (ND-GAIN) Index

The ND-GAIN Index measures countries’ vulnerability to global challenges, including climate change, and their readiness to improve resilience.

Italy scores 60.1 on the ND-Gain Index and is classified in the ‘low vulnerability and high readiness’ category of climate change preparedness.

The index aims to assist businesses, governments, and communities in prioritising investments for a more efficient response to global shifts.

It is measured by combining two main components:

  1. Vulnerability: This evaluates a country’s vulnerability to environmental risks and its ability to adapt. It considers health, food and water availability, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. A higher score indicates greater vulnerability to environmental challenges.
  2. Readiness: This measures how well a country can leverage investments to mitigate climate change. It considers economic stability, governance, technology, and infrastructure. A higher score means a country is better prepared to implement resilience strategies.

This ranking helps identify areas where resources and adaptation strategies can be most effectively directed to mitigate risks and enhance resilience.

By combining these dimensions, the index provides a comprehensive approach to measuring countries’ ability to cope with the impacts of climate change.

Low vulnerability and high readiness in Italy

In terms of readiness to adapt to climate change, Italy ranks in the top 25% group. Globally, the average readiness score is 0.424, with Italy posting a score of 0.528.

They show the greatest strength in governance aspects, while their performance in economic aspects requires improvement.

  • Governance readiness refers to the political, legal, and regulatory aspects influencing a country’s adaptation to climate change, including stability, corruption control, and law enforcement.
  • Economic readiness refers to the business environment and its capacity to adapt to climate change, emphasizing the importance of a supportive regulatory framework for adaptation initiatives.

Regarding vulnerability to climate change, Italy falls into the top 25% category. Compared to the global average vulnerability score of 0.431, Italy has a score of 0.326.

Their resilience is most notable in health areas, yet they face significant challenges in habitat.

  • Health vulnerability refers to the impact of climate change on diseases and medical resources. Innovations can enhance resilience to vulnerabilities affecting human health through food, water insecurity, and extreme weather events.
  • Human habitat refers to the growth of cities and their capacity to withstand climate change impacts like floods and heatwaves. Improved infrastructure enhances urban resilience to extreme weather events.

The formula to calculate the ND-GAIN Index is

GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50GAIN Index=(Readiness Indicators−Vulnerability Indicators+1)×50

In this formula:

  • The Readiness Indicators are measured on a scale of 0 to 1, where a higher score means that the readiness is better.
  • The Vulnerability Indicators are also measured on a scale of 0 to 1, but a lower score indicates better vulnerability in this case. 
  • The difference between the Readiness and Vulnerability scores is calculated and then incremented by 1. 
  • Finally, the result is multiplied by 50 to convert the GAIN Index score to a range of 0-100, where a higher score means the situation is better.

Is there a correlation between greenhouse gas emissions and economic growth in Italy?

In 2020, the gross domestic product (GDP) in Italy declined by -5.9% from the previous year, with the economy moving from $2.01tr to $1.89tr. During the same period, carbon emissions decreased by -9.7%. Over the ten-year period from 2010 to 2020, GDP declined -11.4%, while emissions decreased by -27%.

To put this into context, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of GDP in Italy over the past ten years was -1.2%, and the CAGR for greenhouse gas emissions was -3.1%.

Sources

World Resources Institute, 2022. Climate Watch Historical GHG Emissions. [online] Washington, DC. Available at: https://www.climatewatchdata.org/ghg-emissions.

Global Carbon Project, 2023. Supplemental data of Global Carbon Budget 2023 (Version 1.1) [Data set]. Global Carbon Project. Available at: https://doi.org/10.18160/gcp-2023.

UNFCCC, 2023. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Data. [online] Available at: https://di.unfccc.int.

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative, 2023. ND-GAIN Country Index. [online] Available at: https://gain.nd.edu.

FAO, 2022. Land-Use Change and Forestry or Agriculture indicators from FAOSTAT Emissions Database. [online] Available at: https://www.fao.org/faostat/.

OECD/IEA, 2022. CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion. [online] Available at: https://www.iea.org/reports/co2-emissions-in-2022.

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