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Empowering Change: Italy’s G7 Presidency Champions Energy Transformation in 2024

In 2024, Italy, under the leadership of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, took over the G7 presidency from Japan, inheriting a global stage fraught with challenges and opportunities. One of the most significant initiatives of Italy’s presidency is its focus on “Energy Transformation,” particularly in relation to Africa. This strategic direction aims to foster economic stability in African nations, thereby addressing migration flows to Europe, and is rooted in the integration of energy projects that align with sustainable practices.

Italy’s Role in Global Energy Transformation

The G7 summit in June, set against the backdrop of EU elections, emerged as a defining moment for Meloni’s government. Amidst concerns over its ambiguous energy and climate policies, Italy’s presidency brought to the forefront the intricate balance between ensuring energy security and promoting energy transition. In 2022, signalling the prioritization of energy security, the Italian government renamed the Ministry of Ecological Transition to the Ministry of Environment and Energy Security. This move, more than symbolic, indicated a pragmatic approach to decarbonization, favouring a technology-neutral stance over ideological rigidity​​​​.

Italy’s focus on energy transformation is not without contradictions. The country’s long-standing ties to fossil fuels, particularly through Eni, its state-controlled oil and gas company, cast a shadow over its credibility as a decarbonization partner, especially in Africa. This relationship has been further complicated by the global energy crisis and the war in Ukraine, which have accelerated the fossil business strategy of Eni​​.

Africa: A Central Pillar in Italy’s G7 Agenda

The strategic focus of Italy’s G7 presidency on Africa reflects a deep understanding of the continent’s potential and challenges. Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti emphasized that Africa is a top priority for Italy’s G7 presidency. The Mattei Plan, named after Enrico Mattei, the founder of Eni, exemplifies this focus. It aims to encourage development in Africa through energy investments, thereby reducing migratory pressures and fostering a new model of partnership based on equality and sustainable development​​.

The approach to Africa is grounded in the belief that supporting African development is not just about charity but about building cooperation and serious strategic relationships as equals, not predators. This perspective aims to defend the right of Africans not to have to emigrate by creating investments and a strategy that supports local economies and living standards​​.

Challenges and Opportunities in Energy Transformation

Italy’s Energy and Climate Plan (NECP), a key document outlining the government’s policy objectives, has come under scrutiny for its lack of a decisive shift away from fossil fuels. The EU has expressed a desire for the final version of the NECP, due in June, to be more focused on decarbonization and less tied to fossil interests. The challenge for Italy lies in reconciling its domestic energy policies, which have historically been intertwined with Eni’s fossil fuel strategy, with its international commitments to energy transformation and sustainable development​​.

Despite these challenges, there have been significant strides in renewable energy development in Italy. In 2023, the country saw a notable increase in renewable energy capacity, installing 5.7 GW, six times more than the 2014-2021 average. However, the draft NECP still heavily focuses on fossil fuels, particularly gas, highlighting the ongoing struggle to balance immediate energy security concerns with long-term sustainability goals​​.

Navigating Domestic and International Realities

The 2024 G7 summit, including the climate, energy, and environment ministers’ meeting and the leaders’ summit, is set against a backdrop of significant elections in G7 countries. The outcomes of these elections could influence the direction and effectiveness of Italy’s G7 presidency, especially regarding climate and energy issues. Domestic political dynamics, particularly the campaigning against key climate actions and the European Green Deal by some parties within the governing majority, add another layer of complexity to Italy’s role in the international climate arena​​.

In Conclusion, Italy’s G7 presidency in 2024 represents a critical juncture in the global discourse on energy transformation. The country’s dual focus on ensuring energy security and promoting sustainable energy transition, especially in the context of Africa, sets the stage for potentially ground-breaking developments in international energy cooperation. As Italy navigates its domestic energy challenges and strives to uphold its international commitments, the world watches keenly to see how its leadership will shape the future of global energy dynamics.

Shaping Africa’s Future at the Energy Transition Centre

As we embark on a critical journey towards a sustainable energy future, your involvement is crucial. The Energy Transition Centre at Centurion Law Group is at the forefront of transforming Africa’s energy landscape, advocating for an energy mix, including renewable energy adoption to foster economic growth and improve quality of life. We invite you to join us in this essential mission. Whether you’re an industry expert, a policy maker, or a concerned citizen, your contribution can make a significant difference. For guidance, insights, or to share your ideas, feel free to contact the Energy Transition Centre today with questions:

Together, we can shape a brighter, more sustainable future.

Author: Memoona Tawfiq