The strong dynamism of the energy sector, undergoing an unprecedented technological transformation and revolution, is increasingly putting the issue of energy transition towards clean and renewable energy sources at the centre of the international agenda, in close connection with environmental and climate change issues. This is a political, security and economic priority, leading to the need – even more pressing for countries like Italy, which are highly dependent on energy imports – to be able to cope with the so-called “energy trilemma”: in other words, to have secure, stable and predictable supplies at competitive prices for households and businesses, without failing to meet the binding commitment to long-term sustainability, in view of our energy transition goals for 2030 and the “net zero emissions” goal for 2050.
In this context, energy security has taken on a central role in foreign policy, engaging also Italy not only within the EU, but also within a series of variable-geometry bilateral or multilateral fora, which are necessary to protect our interests and promote cooperation with suppliers and partner countries (e.g. in the Mediterranean, Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caspian region and the Gulf), as well as in the many international fora dealing with energy security and transition.
The Foreign Ministry plays a central role in reconciling national priorities with international action, also through coordination with the other national authorities. Italy’s foreign policy therefore includes topics that are fundamental to the national energy interest such as:
– energy security. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has required a collective rethinking of energy supply choices and the revision of certain international and European market mechanisms. Within this framework, Italy has committed itself to taking global action to ensure national and European energy security. Our energy diplomacy action has been aimed at seeking alternative supplies to those from Russia, strengthening collaborations with traditional partners and promoting additional ones;
– the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, fostering economic growth, job creation and the fight against energy poverty: objectives that have taken on even greater importance in the post-Covid recovery perspective and in the context of the international energy crisis;
– the use of Mediterranean resources, in a cooperative manner and for shared benefits with other coastal countries, in view of broader strategic collaborations in the sectors of the future (electricity interconnections, production of renewables and green hydrogen, energy efficiency, etc.);
– profiled participation in major sectoral organisations.
Italy’s objectives are in line with the actions taken at the EU level to break free from energy dependence on Russia, as well as with what is envisaged, again within the EU, by the Energy Union (security and solidarity; a fully integrated energy market; energy efficiency and demand restraint; decarbonisation of the economy; research, innovation and competitiveness) and by the European Green Deal, which sets the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 and ambitious objectives to be reached as early as 2030.
Energy transition is the lasting and sustainable solution against the criticalities inherent in the fossil fuel market system. Also thanks to the global leadership role of several Italian industrial groups, the starting point for Italy is that of a “virtuous” and ambitious country, with 2030 targets for increasing renewable energy and efficiency that are in line with, or even higher than, those set by the EU to date, as well as with the evoked prospect of achieving a zero net-emission economy (climate neutrality) by 2050.
The share of renewables and natural gas in the energy mix is structurally increasing (resource for stabilisation and transition to renewables); the share of oil is decreasing and that of solid fuels is becoming residual (coal is expected to be no longer used for electricity generation by 2025). A temporary increased use of coal in the winter of 2022-2023 is however possible as part of the possible emergency measures to be taken as a consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.