Climate and development: an industrial strategy

Full decarbonization by 2050 requires the development of new industrial strategies aligned with climate goals. Delaying further would seriously jeopardize the possibility of achieving climate neutrality within the timeframe set at the European level.

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A transition to zero-emission societies requires investments directed toward technologies and processes fully aligned with the climate goal, avoiding the risks of further carbon lock-in. Building a new shared and resilient prosperity must go through decarbonization, bringing benefits for people’s health and the protection of nature and biodiversity. Today, Italy is the seventh largest manufacturing power in the world and the second largest in Europe. The industrial sector employs about 4 million workers, contributing 20 percent of GDP, and is responsible for about 20 percent of national greenhouse gas emissions (30 percent if indirect emissions from electrical uses are included).

The transition represents an opportunity for innovation, increased productivity, enhanced competitiveness and resilience, and a source of new jobs. All of this can be achieved through the ability to attract new public and private investment in technological innovation, through financial and fiscal leverage, and through a clear European and national policy framework. In addition, a new regulatory framework will have to accompany the transition through inclusive and just welfare and employment policies.

This strategic policy must become specific and be applied to different industrial sectors to enable Italy to remain internationally competitive, decrease dependence on natural gas and oil imports, generate new employment and boost the economy. Delaying investment and consequently the transition to more sustainable production models would generate loss of competitiveness and employment in the new markets of the zero-emission economy and would be an unnecessary waste of resources.

Currently, Italy has not yet developed a strategy for the decarbonization of industry. Despite ourselves, there are no concrete indications in the PNRR, the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (NIPEC) or even the Long Term Strategy.

The publication of the Fit for 55% package by the European Commission in July2021 and the Next Generation EU resources provide the framework within which to structure the national industry strategy for the next 30 years.

Based on these considerations, the work of the ECCO think tank intends to independently explore in depth the study of technological options for reducing emissions and the formulation of industrial decarbonization policies and strategies, starting with the production sectors with the highest emission impact. In particular, even in sectors where natural gas is a transitional fuel-such as steel-industrial strategy will need to indicate a priori when and how it can be completely phased out.

The in-depth study and analysis aims to stimulate a public debate, involving all stakeholders, because climate change is a systemic issue and it is from this perspective that it must be addressed. Innovation and welfare must be the answer to the risks of de-industrialization, social instability and lock-in.

Download the full report here.

IMAGE CREDIT Ümit Yıldırım on Unsplash

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