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Climate takes backseat in Italy vote despite extreme events

This week's downpour and flash flooding follows weeks of drought over the summer
This week’s downpour and flash flooding follows weeks of drought on the summer.

From parched rivers to a glacier collapse which week’s deadly storms, Italy has suffered numerous climate events this yearbut many politicians pay the topic bit more than lip service.

Desperate to see some firm commitments before September 25 elections, activists staged a sit-in at the Rome offices of frontrunner Giorgia Meloni earlier this month.

They demanded a public ending up in the far-right leader, but police carted them off the premises.

Concern on the spiralling cost of living has drowned out the debate over how exactly to tackle the devastation due to global warming.

The war in Ukraine has put the chance to energy supplies centre stage in a country heavily reliant on Russian gas. Which has prompted a brand new drive for renewablesbut also a rise in production in coal-fired plants.

Michele Giuli, an associate of the final Generation movement that stormed Meloni’s office, said deadly floods in central Italy this week had to refocus thinking.

Many have linked the extreme weather event to , including Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

“Folks have died…,” he told AFP. “This must make us reflect.

“What do you want to do with this lives, as the Italian state does nothing to lessen emissions and prevent thousands of similar deaths within the next couple of years?”

Violence of climate events

This summer’s drought, the worst in 70 years, drained the Po River, the peninsula’s largest water reservoir and an essential resource for Italy’s .

And the rains came, hitting land as hard as concrete. Five times the amount of storms, hurricanes and floods lashed the united states in comparison to 10 summers ago, based on the agricultural association Coldiretti.

In August, Italian scientists wrote an open letter to politicians, urging them to place the emergency first.

But an analysis published this week by Greenpeace discovered that significantly less than 0.5 percent of political leaders’ statements on the primary TV news programmes covered the climate crisis.

Come early july in Italy “will undoubtedly be sadly remembered for the frequency and the violence of climate events… yet this dramatic emergency will not appear to affect most of the political leaders wanting to lead the united states,” said Giuseppe Onufrio, executive director of Greenpeace Italy.

Nonetheless it has been worse. Election experts at Luiss university in Rome remember that some parties never used to say the surroundings at all.

Manifestos ‘weak on detail’

The widespread inclusion of green policies is in fact “among the novelties of the electoral campaign”, the CISE electoral studies unit said in a commentary the other day.

This reflects the growing interest on the list of public, with 80 percent of respondents they surveyed agreeing that the fight climate change ought to be important for Italy.

“At the very least climate change is addressed, or at the very least mentioned, in every of (the manifestos), though most are weak on detail,” said Piera Patrizio, senior researcher at the Centre for Environmental Policy at Imperial College London.

Italy had vowed to close its coal-fired plants by 2025, an objective it intends to help keep regardless of the short-term measures to tackle the shortage of gas this winer.

Meloni’s right-wing alliance pledges to purchase renewable energies and waste-to-energy plants, and also domestic production of gas, and installing regasification plants.

The outgoing government plans to set up two such plants off Tuscany and Emilia Romagna, despite local protests.

Enrico Letta’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which presents the primary challenge to Meloni, backs the plants as a temporary fix.

Meanwhile the anti-immigrant League party and right-wing Forza Italiapart of Meloni’s coalitionare pushing for nuclear energy though Italians rejected it in two referenda in 1987 and 2011.

The PD rejects nuclear power as too slow and expensive a remedy and wants instead to sharply raise the share of renewables stated in Italy.

“There’s close to nothing (in the policies) on equity… on what some households, some places will be more affected than other,” Patrizio said.

The EU’s post-pandemic recovery fund, that Italy expects to benefit almost 200 billion euros, is heavily tilted towards projects that ease the so-called “ecological transition”.

But Patrizio added: “Italy does not have a net zero strategy at this time… it doesn’t even understand where to start.”

Marzio Galeotti, and policy professor at Milan University, said it had been “difficult to convince” the general public that “environmental sustainability and emissions reduction could be coupled with economic growth”.

But, he noted sadly, that is true of several countries: “We have been seeing some sort of temporary amnesia that’s not unique to Italy.”

2022 AFP

Citation: Climate takes backseat in Italy vote despite extreme events (2022, September 17) retrieved 17 September 2022 from

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