Italy has suffered difficult conditions this year, represented by the drying of rivers and the collapse of glaciers, as well as the deadly storms that hit it this week, but the issue of climate change is still at the bottom of the priorities of many politicians. .
Earlier this month, climate activists organized a sit-in in Rome at the offices of the leading candidate in the September 25 elections, Georgia Meloni, in an effort to obtain concrete commitments in this regard.
They also requested a public meeting with the far-right leader, but the police expelled them.
Concerns about rising costs of living have overshadowed debate over how to deal with the devastation caused by global warming.
The war in Ukraine has highlighted the dangers of energy supplies in a country that relies heavily on Russian gas. While this has given impetus to efforts to switch to renewable energy sources, it has also led to increased output at coal plants.
And Michel Joly, a member of the “Last Generation” movement who stormed Meloni’s office, said the deadly floods that swept through central Italy this week had to change priorities.
Many, including Prime Minister Mario Draghi, have linked the highly unusual weather conditions to climate change.
“People have died. That should make us think,” Jolie told AFP.
“What do we want to do in our lives, when the Italian state is not taking any action to reduce emissions and prevent tens of thousands of similar deaths in the coming years?”
The drought that hit the country this summer, considered the worst in 70 years, has drastically reduced the level of the Po River, the largest water reserve on the peninsula and an important resource for Italy’s agricultural sector.
Then the rain came hitting the ground hard like cement. The number of storms, hurricanes and floods that hit the country exceeded five times that of Italy ten summers ago, according to the agricultural association “Coldiretti”.
But an analysis published by “Greenpeace” this week found that 0.5 percent of statements by political leaders on major TV channel news programs concerned the climate crisis.
Greenpeace Italy executive director Giuseppe Onofrio said this summer in Italy “will be sadly remembered for the recurrence of extreme weather events… But this massive emergency does not seem to affect the many political leaders seeking to govern the country.”
However, the situation was worse in the past, and electoral experts from the Luis University of Rome noted that some parties did not mention the environment at all.
The Italian Center for Electoral Studies, CISE, said in a commentary last week that the inclusion of environmentally friendly policies in electoral programs is “one of the new themes in this electoral campaign.”
This reflects the growing interest of the population in this issue, as 80 percent of those surveyed said they believe that the fight against climate change should be a priority for Italy.
“At least climate change is addressed or mentioned in all of (the data), although much of it lacks detail,” said Piera Patrizio, a senior fellow at the Center for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London.
Italy has pledged to close its coal plants by 2025, a goal it intends to maintain despite short-term measures to deal with gas shortages next winter.
The right-wing Meloni coalition is committed to investing in renewable energy sources and waste-to-energy plants, in addition to the local production of natural gas and the establishment of regasification plants.
The outgoing government plans to build two such stations off Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna, despite protests from residents.
The Democratic Party (center-left), headed by Enrico Letta, Meloni’s main rival, supports the establishment of the stations as a temporary solution.
Meanwhile, the Anti-Immigration League and the right-wing Forza Italia (part of Meloni’s coalition) defend nuclear energy despite the fact that Italians rejected it in regular referendums in 1987 and 2011.
The Democratic Party rejects nuclear energy as a slow and too expensive solution, preferring instead to significantly increase the proportion of renewable energy resources produced in Italy.
“There is almost nothing (in politics) about equality … and about families in some parts of the country being more affected than others,” Patrizio said.
The Post-Pandemic Recovery Fund established by the European Union, from which Italy is expected to receive 200 billion euros, focuses mainly on projects that mitigate the “environmental transition”.
But Patrizio added: “Italy doesn’t have a net-zero emissions strategy at the moment… it doesn’t even know where to start.”
Marzio Galeotti, a professor of ecology and politics at the University of Milan, noted that it is “difficult to convince” the public that “environmental sustainability and emission reductions can go hand in hand with economic growth.”
“We see a kind of temporary amnesia, which is not limited to Italy,” he said.