Ispra Report: emissions and pollution in decline, 2020 closes the hottest decade

There has been no respite from the increase in temperatures since 1985, the heat islands in the cities are aggravating

In the last 30 years, greenhouse gas emissions produced by Italy have decreased by 19% compared to 1990. In the same years the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by forests and soils has also increased, contributing significantly to the fight against climate change. . The reduction in emissions occurred mainly thanks to large users, who have the necessary resources to invest in new, more efficient technologies: emissions decreased by 46% in the manufacturing industry and by 33% in the energy industries. Less well, however, in transport and buildings, where costs fall more directly on the shoulders of citizens. It is the photograph of the new report of the Ispra ‘Tea-Open ecological transition. Where is the Italian environment going? ‘.


Since 1985, the annual average temperature anomalies, with respect to the thirty years of climate 1961-1990, have always been positive, with the exception of 1991 and 1996, and the 2020 closed the hottest decade ever, with annual average anomalies between +0.9 and + 1.71 ° C. The surface temperature of the Italian seas in the last 22 years has also always been above average. On the other hand, the analysis of the annual cumulative precipitation does not show significant variations. “It is essential that the efforts on the climate are global. Italy is located in the center of the Mediterranean basin, where the impact of climate change will presumably be more intense and potentially disastrous due to the high vulnerability of the area”, remarks Ispra.

Urban areas and heat islands

Italy is a highly urbanized country, more than a third of the population is concentrated in its 14 metropolitan cities. More and more alarming – Ispra points out – is the phenomenon of the urban heat island: overbuilding, scarcity of green areas, use of heating and cooling systems of buildings are among the main responsible for the increase in temperatures in city centers up to 4-5 ° C more than in peripheral areas. In general, the larger and more compact the cities, the greater the intensity of the heat island phenomenon.

Forests and protected areas

The percentage of land covered by woods is now 37% of the national surface, a value higher than that of two traditionally forestry European countries such as Germany and Switzerland, both at 31%. From the second post-war period to today, Italian forests have steadily increased, passing 5.6 to 11.1 million hectares. Growth, which occurred at the expense of agricultural surfaces and natural and semi-natural soils, has accelerated in recent years: from 1985 to 2015, forests increased by 28%.

From the seventies to today, land and sea protected areas have greatly increased in number and extent. The protected land area touches 20% of the national one. The marine area covers over 19% of the sea areas under Italian jurisdiction; a figure which includes, in addition to the protected areas, the areas subject to special conservation measures. There is still 10% to reach the European target set at 2030 (30%), but 23 new marine protected areas are already planned.

Land consumption and instability

Despite a slight decline since 2012, land consumption is still strong: 60 square kilometers per year or 15 hectares per day. As for hydrogeological instability, according to the Ispra report, there are many buildings, homes, productive activities, infrastructures of all kinds, which aggravate the phenomenon and its human and economic costs. In the last 20 years, the damage caused by hydrogeological events, estimated at over one billion euros a year, has been far greater than the investments for landslide and flood risk mitigation measures, amounting on average to around 300 million. In the last three years alone, investments have reached one billion a year: still little, taking into account that the requirement for the Italian territory is 26 billion.