The European Green Deal: Turning Point or Too Little Too Late?

In the evening of the 18th of February, European Generation hosted the first event of the second semester. The main topic was the European Green Deal, whose aim is to make “Europe climate neutral by 2050, boosting the economy through green technology, creating sustainable industry and transport, cutting pollution”.

The event, featuring Dr. Antonio Navarra, — President of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change — and Dr. Ivan Faiella, — Senior Economist at Banca d’Italia — was moderated by Prof. Miriam Allena, professor of Administrative Law at Bocconi University. During the conference, several crucial topics concerning adaption and mitigation towards climate change have been touched.

After a brief introduction, Prof. Allena gave the floor to Dr. Navarra, for a scientific perspective on the issue.

Dr. Navarra – Time is running for Climate Action

Dr. Antonio Navarra graduated in Physics and did his Ph.D at the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory at Princeton University. His fields of research are the investigation of the dynamical mechanisms that control climate on a global scale and the simulation and evaluation of climate change through future climate scenarios.

He started his talk pointing out the difference between the perceptions of the public with regard to the climate crisis versus the scientist ones. From his experience, the scientific community has been discussing climate change for several decades. However, the media and the public, especially in Italy still treat it as an exceptional phenomenon. In particular, Dr. Navarra mentioned the remarkable work of Resources For the Future (RFF): an American nonprofit organization which conducts independent research into environmental, energy, and natural resource issues, mainly via economics and other social sciences. Founded in 1952, RFF became the first think tank focused only on natural resources and environmental matters. A collaboration between Resources For the Future and the Euro-Mediterranean Center on Climate Change has formed the European Institute on Economics and the Environment (EIEE).

Then Dr. Navarra, commenting on the validity of a policy instrument such as the European Green Deal in reducing emissions and transitioning to a climate neutral society, focused his considerations on the current level of greenhouse gases, estimated at 441 ppm (parts per million).

In his opinion, the slowdown in emissions at the European level in the last 25 years is certainly a good sign, together with new climate policies pointing towards such a direction (EU greenhouse gas emissions were reduced by 24% between 1990 and 2019, while the economy grew by around 60% over the same period). Nonetheless, the necessary time of carbon sequestration shall also be taken into account.

Carbon sequestration refers to the long-term removal, carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to mitigate global warming. This process, whether it happens through natural processes or with the aid of the most advanced technologies, takes a long time. Meanwhile, we are already beginning to experience climate-altering gases which continue to contribute to the alteration of ecosystems and to extreme phenomena.

Towards the conclusion, Dr. Navarra remarked the urgency and inevitability of taking immediate action with respect to the climate crisis: “I think the climate problem is the first problem of a class of problems we will probably – unfortunately – meet in the future”, he stated.

Dr. Faiella – The Advantages and the Risks of Climate Action

After Dr. Navarra speech, Dr. Faiella, — who is also Coordinator of the Bank of Italy Task Force for G20 Sustainable Finance — presented to the audience the complex subject of economic and financial transformation towards a sustainable future. He started by showing a visual representation of the most likely climate scenarios, assessed on the transition risks and the physical risks. The three scenarios, namely Orderly, Disorderly and Hot House World, are depicted in the following image, taken from a presentation on the occasion of the NGFS Climate Scenarios fo