The objective of this article is to develop a comparative analysis of the implementation of climate change related policies – focusing on renewable energy generation – by two European Union members: Denmark and Italy. Under the European Union energy policy, the cases provide an interesting sample: a developed country more pro-active in environmental international negotiations (Denmark) and a more conservative developed country (Italy).
Through an empirical research, the article develops the two cases to understand the achievements and obstacles to implement mitigation policies at the national level. What lessons for policy makers at national level can be drawn from the Danish and Italian experiences of respond to climate change? And how have both countries being engaged and reacting to the European Union energy targets? Barriers and promising approaches are identified, based on their experience.
Currently, the two major challenges related to the use of energy are the emission of greenhouse gases – likely leading to climate change – and the security of supply. When speaking of security of supply, a differentiation is made between the necessary production and transmission capacity to cover demand at any time (power supply) and the availability of resources to cover this demand (fuel supply/import dependence). Nowadays the development of renewable energy sources is strategic and it can help to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and to reduce import dependence.
Energy efficiency is a key element for a more sustainable future. The promotion of an increased use of renewable energy sources contributes to security of supply, mitigation of climate change and environmental protection. In European energy sectors there are an increasing attention for renewable energy sources and more efficient energy generation and distribution. The advantages of promoting renewable energy is recognized by the EU in view of security of supply and climate change challenges. It is also stressed that renewable energy contributes to improved air quality, create new business, employment and rural development. Differences in national conditions imply that the implementation of EU policies in Member States can have many variations though.
In order to initiate a study for better understand energy policy development in the European Union, two State Members were studied empirically: Denmark and Italy. The case study method is based on the understanding of how and why things happen in certain socio-economic and political context. Initially, information was collected from reports, Internet sites and academic and newspaper articles, followed by the gathering of documents during the visits to the two countries. Moreover, a series of semi-structure interviews in the two regions were carried out with government officials, members of civil society, specialists, academics and firm managers during the period between August 2008 and January 2009. Follow-up phone interviews and email exchanges were performed for information clarifications. The main points of the cases are presented below.
Denmark is a net exporter of energy meaning that 36.8% of his energy production is exported; on the contrary Italy imports 86% of his gross Energy consumption. In 2005 the share of renewable consumption to gross final energy consumption was of 5.2% for Italy and 17% for Denmark, moreover differently from Italy, Denmark has developed a specific renewable energy technology and almost the entire all he electricity from renewables is produced from wind. Even though Denmark has a good availability of non-renewable energy in Denmark (342 barrel per day in Denmark compared to 120 in Italy in 2005) Danish offshore wind capacity remains the highest per capita in Europe (400 MW in total in 2006) and the government aim at reaching 50% of the energy production from wind in 2025.
Danish wind energy model integrated renewables into the social landscape. Unlike Italy, where the production and consumption aspects of energy are segregated and considered as ruining the urban and rural landscape, energy production in Denmark is predominately decentralized and close to the end user.
Considering a political point of view Denmark has adopted a long term strategy. After more than 30 years of research and development wind energy has become reliable source of energy and a business opportunity. In fact thanks to the high development in this field, Denmark is the unchallenged world leader in terms of wind technology, exporting 4.7 billion euros in energy technology and equipment in 2007.
Behind the Danish wind energy model, we can see a strong and consistent political leadership that do not change unexpectedly over time, cultural acceptance, and bottom-up technical development each had a role to play. An important role has played a strong feed-in tariff and subsidies that has been repaid through a high taxation. Moreover the model of R&D funded through taxes has been demonstrated to be effective at providing financial support for public research, while spreading the costs of that research among all electricity customers.
On the contrary, Italy despite a large solar and wind energy availability has seen political changes and ambiguities in the current policy design. In this scenario no long term plans have been respected. In particular a consistent political view both on the R&D of renewable energy technologies and business development has not been applied. Besides, a slow bureaucracy and administrative constraints such as complex authorization procedures at local level has slowed down business development in this field.
The two cases in this article can help us to understand the dynamics and challenges of implementation of climate related policies in two countries under the umbrella of the European Union. Today's global environmental problems, such as climate change, need different approaches to policymaking and implementation. Many environmental problems are complex and need complex solutions, such as the case of climate change. National governments have different features and stakeholders, leading to diverse policy responses and solutions.
Finally, the article discusses the energy policies trajectories from Denmark and Italy and how both countries engaged in the climate change international debate and how they reacted to the European Union energy targets. Moreover, Danish and Italian best practices are pointed out and analyzed under the European context.