Towards technological neutrality
G7 Summit

Towards technological neutrality

For some time now, Italy has been promoting technological neutrality in Europe, and it is inspiring Italy’s presidency of the G7, with commitments to double energy efficiency

The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai marked a new step along the path of combating climate change, which many have identified as the historic text in the Outcome of the First Global Stocktake: “Transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”. From my point of view, there is an equally fundamental turning point right after that in the very next paragraph: “Accelerating zero- and low-emission technologies, including, inter alia, renewables, nuclear, abatement and removal technologies such as carbon capture and utilization and storage, particularly in hard-to-abate sectors, and low-carbon hydrogen production”. This statement represents the best expression of the concept of technological neutrality that Italy has been promoting in Europe for some time now. This principle establishes the need to exploit all the technologies that allow for energy production without emitting greenhouse gases to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement – and it is inspiring Italy’s presidency of the G7. This commitment includes tripling the installation of renewable energy plants by overcoming bureaucratic and legislative obstacles, and thus doubling energy efficiency. It also reopens a debate that until recently was taboo in both national and international public opinion regarding new nuclear technologies: small nuclear reactors and nuclear fusion.

At the same time, in a pragmatic manner, the Italian presidency reaffirms the need to support this path by maintaining the use of natural gas in those hard-to-abate applications, while promoting research and development of carbon capture technologies such as the Callisto project in Ravenna. The ministerial meeting of environment and energy ministers in Turin in April addressed these critical issues, which will also be summarised in the final statement issued by the G7 leaders in Apulia.

A pragmatic approach

In other words, Italy – satisfied with the recognition of the principle of technological neutrality, which it has always supported – proposes a pragmatic and non-ideological approach, within the G7 framework, as the only possibility for achieving a sustainable future starting from an equally sustainable present, from an environmental, economic and social point of view, as the only way not to leave anyone behind.

Moreover, the particular attention given by the Italian presidency to these issues has been recently underlined by the International Energy Agency, which noted that Italy has put COP28 energy outcomes at the core of its climate, energy and environment ministerial.

Italy’s Mattei Plan for Africa is also evolving in this direction, having identified six main pillars: education and vocational training, water, energy, health, agriculture and infrastructure. These are all themes that, in the last COP in Dubai, represent internationally recognised key factors that require simultaneous action in order to achieve the ambitious goal of limiting global warming to a 1.5°C increase.

The distinguishing feature of the Mattei Plan is its methodology, inspired by a global and non-predatory approach that responds to the needs of Africa. It recognises the centrality of shared sustainable socioeconomic development and responsibilities for stability and security as the foundation of lasting mutually beneficial relationships between Africa and Europe. The Mattei method can be summarised as “listen, respect, build together”.

Given the vastness of the African continent – larger than the United States, Europe and China combined – the Mattei Plan divides Africa into quadrants along north-south and west-east axes. In the first phase, the initiative focuses on pilot projects in Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Congo and Côte d’Ivoire for the sub-Saharan quadrant, and Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria for the North African quadrant. In a second phase, the plan, in concentric circles, will extend to other countries on the continent, following an incremental logic. All this is done with the awareness that no long-term results can be achieved without the participation of all national actors and key international partners in implementing the Mattei Plan. This is the trigger for a virtuous circle that creates and spreads wealth and development in Africa through mutually beneficial cooperation with Europe.