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Climate change: the COP26 challenge

    • Meeting in digital format
    • 20 September 2021

          The COP26 offers a crucial window of opportunity in the struggle against climate change. After the G20 in Naples, the Glasgow conference under the Italian and British presidency will be a moment for the world’s most prominent economies to scrutinize fulfillment of the 2015 Paris Accord pledges and discuss future steps.

          The international political framework is emitting some positive signals, starting with the position of a new American administration placing top priority on climate diplomacy. Nevertheless, it is impossible to ignore the disparity among various countries’ commitments to the climate fight. Italy is going to be among the economies that invest the most in meeting this challenge, thanks not least to Next Gen EU funding for the ecological transition. The country still has much to do, however, beginning with updating the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) to include compliance with European de-carbonization goals.

          Moreover, the Union’s “Fit for 55” plan sets a clear goal: the reduction by 55% of CO2 emissions by the end of 2030 as compared with 1990 levels, with 2050 the ultimate target for carbon neutrality. These objectives call for investments and legislation, but also for action at the level of individual behavior, primarily in terms of consumption and mobility habits. Industry will inevitably be one of the sectors hardest hit by this transition, especially considering production associated with coal, the energy resource that most contributes to harmful emissions. The increased energy efficiency of entire segments of the economy must therefore become an opportunity to boost the competitiveness of industry as a whole.

          Some technologies are already available, but looking ahead to 2050, new ones are going to be needed and on a larger scale. Consequently, the financial support ensured by the recovery plan needs the added help of instruments capable of stimulating private investment, most importantly legislative simplification aimed at accelerating the transition. The challenge for Italy is not to limit itself to importing technology, but rather to use investments and industrial expertise to generate development opportunities associated with the green economy and an end to the use of fossil fuels.

          Neither must this effort be limited to the wealthiest economies; emissions know no borders, and meeting the global challenge calls for the commitment of everyone. Although less developed countries are being encouraged to do their part, it is important to recall that the wealthiest nations have still not fulfilled the promises made in 2009 in terms of funding for the world’s south.

          For that reason, the COP26 must adopt the global approach that was the 2015 Paris Accord’s truly pioneering step – and in a year that marks the start of a decade that is going to be critical to the de-carbonization process. The task will not be an easy one and the desired results are ambitious. Achieving them will be possible with the common commitment not only of governments, but also of all the various components of civil societies across the world.