Academic journal article Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis

Analysing Italian Regional Patterns in Green Economy and Climate Change. Can Italy Leverage on Europe 2020 Strategy to Face Sustainable Growth Challenges?

Academic journal article Journal of Urban and Regional Analysis

Analysing Italian Regional Patterns in Green Economy and Climate Change. Can Italy Leverage on Europe 2020 Strategy to Face Sustainable Growth Challenges?

Article excerpt

Introduction

Green economy is an emerging paradigm at the heart of the economic and political agenda of the majority of developed countries. The concept of green economy is directly related to climate change and energy efficiency that are environmental "problems" with clear political and social implications (Khor 2011). The sustainability question is gaining significance as a "global explosion" produced by the scarcity of vital resources (energy, land, water) and global warming appears to become more realistic and a crucial issue of growing interest among policy makers and economists after Rio +20 (Loorbach 2010, UNEP 2011). However, green economy is a complex concept that has not yet received an international consensus with scholars debating on the different interpretations and meanings of "green growth". Between those who argued that green growth is the best potential way out of the financial crisis and onto a sustainability paradigm (OECD 2009, Makower and Pike 2009, Bosselmann et al. 2012) and others who consider it just an oxymoron or paradox (Ulrich 2012, Ploeg Van Der and Withagen 2013), it is a fact that even Europe has to face global challenges that impose strategic choices.

Europe is aware of the need to rethink the existing development model based on decades of resource intensive growth as well as to structurally change production patterns and consumption behaviours (EC 2010a). European Member States recently have decided to address these questions with a strong political response that can offer serious opportunities to enhance sustainability in a short time, shift towards green economy, address local challenges and respond to or even reverse damaging trends (EC 2011d). After the "Lisbon Agenda" experience, considered by many economists, policy makers and scientists a failed strategy (Sapir et al. 2003, Kok 2004, Zgajewski and Hajjar 2005), in 2010 the European Commission launched a new strategy called "Europe 2020" as a European exit strategy from the global economic and financial crisis to help European cities and regions to change the model of growth by shifting towards a low-carbon economy. This Europe's blueprint for a smart, sustainable and inclusive future is a ten year roadmap for growth and jobs and should improve territorial cohesion with structural sustainable reforms (EC 2010b).

In this context, Italy is a country that is struggling to plan a real transition to a sustainable and greener economy. As the findings reported in this work will demonstrate, Italian regions need a "transformational agenda" based on a long-term vision and consistent policies (from energy, transportation, sustainable agriculture to combating climate change, preserving biodiversity). Europe 2020 Strategy can be considered a crucial opportunity to make European regions and cities greener, smarter and inclusive. Can Italy leverage on this strategy to face sustainable growth challenges?

Drawing on the Espon Siesta Project "Spatial Indicators for a Europe 2020 Strategy Territorial Analysis", which has analyzed the territorial dimension of the EU2020S through the elaboration of selected indicators at different territorial levels, this paper seeks to contribute to the current debate by presenting the main results about regional patterns in Italy on climate change, green economy and energy within the context of EU2020S and to provide policy recommendations for better achieving the goals of the Strategy. This paper presents the results of the work carried out by the Unit of Reggio Calabria so as to provide a "picture" of the current situation of Italy relatively to the sustainable growth pillar. Particular attention will be paid to GHG emissions, energy intensity of the economy, and renewable energy sources, since it is believed that the EU2020 Strategy headline targets of 20/20/20 can potentially have the wider impacts on the economy, cities, city users and behaviours of households and people in general. In conclusion, the importance of new policy measures concerning urban areas which are needed to achieve the sustainable growth pillar targets will also be stressed and highlighted. …

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