Information on the mechanization of agriculture, gardening, components and multifunctionality.

Reducing fossil sources: a political challenge

The ongoing climate change must be fought with effective measures to be implemented in a short time and on a global scale. At present, the commitments declared at the COP21 by the countries attending the conference appear inadequate to prevent the risk of irreversible events of environmental imbalances. Policy-makers will have the task to define responsible strategies in contrast to that

by Matteo Monni
February - March 2016 | Back

At the end of the Climate Change Conference COP21, held last December, the general feeling is that finally humanity is heading toward a sustainable development, with countries moving at different speeds. In this context, some go straight to the point of decarbonization, while others find it hard to imagine an economy off of fossil fuels. Basically, the positions described represent on the one hand developed countries that, after polluting, now seem willing to remedy with drastic measures and on the other hand developing countries that, in order to grow, are still polluting a lot.  For instance, the current economic strength of China allows it to be able to engage in massive programmes of emission reduction through huge investments in the RES (Renewable Energy Sources), while today’s India considers fossil fuels exploitation (60% carbon) as the easiest way to follow for its economic growth. In fact, it appears that in India CO2 emissions per capita are about 1.6 t/year - well below the 7.1 of China and 16.4 of USA - but a rapid increase of well-being for 1.3 billion Indians without green economy would inevitably increase the environmental impact due to emissions.  For such situations, a solution could be found through financial contributions, according to the Paris agreement, by which developed countries should “help other countries to develop their renewable energy sources and communities to adapt to climate changes”. Therefore, in order to implement the important decisions taken at COP21, all countries involved will have to continue the negotiations for the development of a shared and effective global strategy. After the ratification of the agreement, scheduled on April 2016, another summit called “constructive dialogue” will be held in 2018, and in 2023 a review of goals. The above-mentioned milestones confirm that at present, among the goals to achieve and the identified but quite vague instruments of action, still persist considerable margins of uncertainty.  In this context, policy-makers will have to find effective solutions to complex issues, with the involvement of contrasting interests, such as international cooperation, adaptation, technological transfer and financial aspects.  Unfortunately, without a specific roadmap and short-term goals, the path to take will be strongly conditioned by the will or simply the ability of present and future governments to respect and possibly adjust the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), i.e. the contributions declared in Paris by each country in order to contain global warming.  According to the agreement, no sanction will be applied to those countries that will not reach the goals indicated by themselves in their INDC.  In addition, by analyzing the targets established in the INDC, it appeared that the adopted measures (to be reviewed in 2018) would set a rising trend in world temperature between 2.7°C and 3.7°C. In a few words, unless desirable changes, the so invoked limit of 2°C could not be respected.   According to estimates made by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), in order to respect the global-warming limit of 2°C, emissions would have to be cut by 40-70% by 2050, from 2010 levels.  Respecting the target of 1.5°C would imply a drastic emission cut of 70-95% by 2050. These values, expressed in the early drafts of the agreement and disappeared in the final text - since they have been replaced by more general objectives - must be reference points not to lose sight of. Despite emission cuts pledged in Paris, the countries do not appear capable of containing the global temperature in the limits of sustainability. This will only be possible through courageous political measures that severely penalize the production of energy from fossil fuels, stimulate investments in eco-friendly technologies and products and allocate funds for research and innovation.

In the sector of agriculture are available important possibilities of intervention with the definition of cultivation protocols that, through a modern and highly efficient mechanization can limit: soil fertility reduction, use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, water consumption and food waste. A sustainable agriculture can play a key role, by guaranteeing the function of storage of organic carbon in soil and promoting the supply chains for the valorization and conversion of biomass for energy (residual or from “ad hoc” cultivations), which prevent the emission of large amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere.  It is a shame to point out that there is a gap between the statements made by our government in Paris and the measures adopted, since with regard to the development of renewable sources, energy efficiency and circular economy, the situation is not only going at a slow pace, but is also worsening.   The new Decree to encourage the non-solar renewable energy, as well as containing significant cuts, is more than one year late on the roadmap for its entry into force. The same goes for the exhausting wait for the implementing measures for the promotion of production and distribution of biomethane.  All these delays, together with many other critical issues, can lead to a dangerous block to the development of the sector of renewable energy.  On top of that, the government carries out an anachronistic policy for the exploitation of hydrocarbon deposits in our seas.  On April 17, pushed by 9 regions, Italians will be deciding with a referendum whether oil companies will have to stop the activity at the expiration of the concessions obtained or will continue to extract natural gas and oil until the exhaustion of deposits.  It would be appropriate, according to the COP21 agreement, to opt for the former possibility, considering fossil sources as strategic stockpiles to be used only exceptionally and instead focusing on the made in Italy biomethane chain.  In the future, this renewable biofuel - with an estimated production capacity of 8 billion cubic meters per year - could also propel the machinery engines of the agricultural and forestry sectors.  In conclusion, in Italy a first signal following the Paris agreement could come from civil society, which was in fact excluded from negotiations.  We all have the shared responsibility to oversee the actions of governments worldwide, demanding the highest commitment in the respect for the environment by quickly enabling appropriate measures.  The referendum on oil and gas drilling will be the next definitive test. 


THE MOST READ of the latest edition