Italian Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Emission estimates comprise ten GHG: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, HFCs, PFCs, sulfur hexafluoride, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, non-methane volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide. The first six GHGs directly contribute to climate change owing to their positive irradiative forcing effect. The national Kyoto target is a reduction in the period 2008-2012 of 6.5% of GHG, as compared to the 1990 base year level. In spite of it, total GHG emissions, in CO2 equivalent, decreased by 5.4% between 1990 and 2009 (from 519 to 491 millions of CO2 equivalent tons), excluding emissions and removals of carbon dioxide (CO2) involved with LULUCF. Emission estimations include the following sources: energy, industrial processes, solvent and other product use, agriculture, LULUCF, and wastes. The most important GHG, CO2, which accounted for 85% of total emissions in CO2 equivalent in 2009, showed a decrease by 4.3% between 1990 and 2009. CH4 and N2O emissions were equal to 7.6 and 5.7%, respectively, of the total CO2 equivalent GHG emissions in 2009. Both gases showed a decrease from 1990 to 2009, equal to 14.3 and 25.3%, respectively. Other GHG, HFCs, PFCs, and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) ranged from 0.04 to 1.7% of total emissions (ISPRA 2011a). The major contribution to the national GHG emissions is the energy sector (82.8%), followed by the agriculture (7.0%), and the industrial processes (6.1%) sectors (Table 2.2).

According to guidelines of IPCC national inventory for the agriculture sector, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions should be estimated and reported. Enteric fermentation (4A), manure management (4B), rice cultivation (4C), agricultural soils (4D), and field burning of agriculture residues (4F) are included in this sector. In 2009, agricultural activity has been the dominant national source for CH4 (41%) and N2O (69%) emissions, and have decreased by 11.4 and 17.9%, respectively, in respect to 1990.

While the agricultural sector is responsible for 34.48 Mt of CO2 equivalent, the GHG trend from 1990 to 2009 shows a decrease of 15.1% (Fig. 2.5). This was mostly due to a decrease of CH4 emissions from enteric fermentation (—11.5%), and to a decrease of N2O from agricultural soils (—20.6%), which account for 31 and 45% of total agricultural emissions, respectively (ISPRA 2011a). In particular,

Table 2.2 Greenhouse gas (Gigagrams, Gg) source and sink categories for Italy in 2009

GHG source and sink categories

2GG9 CO2-equivalent (Gg)



Industrial processes


Solvent and other product use




Land use, land-use change and forestrya




Total (including LULUCF removal)a


Total (excluding LULUCF)


Source: ISPRA (2G11a) aIncludes net CO2, CH4, and N2O

Source: ISPRA (2G11a) aIncludes net CO2, CH4, and N2O

45.000 -, 40.000 -35.000 -30.000 -25.000 -20.000 -15.000 -10.000 -5.000 -

4D Agricultural soils

4B Manure management

4F Field burning of agricultural wastes

4A Enteric fermentation 4C Rice cultivation

Fig. 2.5 Total GHG emissions from 1990 to 2009 for the agriculture sector (Gg CO2 eq) (elaboration from ISPRA 2011a)

estimations from agricultural soils as source include (1) direct N2O emissions from nitrogen fertilizers use, sewage sludge application, soil application of manure, N-fixing crops, incorporation of crop residues, histosols and pasture and (2) indirect N2O emissions from atmospheric deposition and nitrogen leaching and run-off (ISPRA 2011a). Main drivers are the reduction in the number of animals, use of synthetic N-fertilizers, and agricultural production. Between 1990 and 2009, market interventions (I Pillar) due to Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), such as the milk quota, influenced reduction in number of dairy cattle (29%). Between 1990 and 2009, the use of N-fertilizers has been reduced by 37%, while the reduction was by 17 and 25% in the years 2007/2008 and 2008/2009, respectively. In addition, after the CAP Health Check reform, also Rural Development Plans 2007-2013 (II Pillar) will be likely to contribute to emission reduction by reducing nitrogen surplus (Condor et al. 2010).

The LULUCF sector includes estimations of CO2 removal and emission of CO2, CH4, and N2O for the following categories: forest land, cropland, grassland,

5E. Settlements 5C. Grassland 5B. Cropland 5A. Forest Land

Fig. 2.6 Total emissions and removals from the LULUCF sector from 1990 to 2009 (Gg CO2 eq) (elaboration from ISPRA 2011a)

5E. Settlements 5C. Grassland 5B. Cropland 5A. Forest Land

Fig. 2.6 Total emissions and removals from the LULUCF sector from 1990 to 2009 (Gg CO2 eq) (elaboration from ISPRA 2011a)

wetlands, and settlements. Emissions and removals are estimated for each category, and each further subcategories "land remaining land" and "land converting to land". The sector was responsible in 2009 for removal of 94.7 Mt of CO2 from atmosphere (Fig. 2.6). From 1990 to 2009, total removal as CO2 equivalent increased by 53.2%, CO2 accounting for more than 99% of total emissions and removals of the sector (ISPRA 2011a).

Forest land removals accounted for 65% of total CO2 LULUCF emissions and removals in 2009. In particular, the living biomass removals represented 50%, while removals from dead organic matter and soils stood for 8 and 42%, respectively, of total forest land CO2 removed in 2009. The key driver for such rise was the increase in CO2 removals from forest land remaining forest land.

Cropland removals were 12.1% of total CO2 LULUCF emissions and removals. In particular, the living biomass removals represented 97%, while the emissions and removals from soils were up to 3% of total cropland CO2 emissions and removals.

Between 1990 and 2009, mean Grassland emissions reached 13.6% of absolute CO2 LULUCF emissions and removals. Living biomass emissions represented 7%, while removals from dead organic matter pool reached 3% and those from soils were up to 91% of absolute total grassland CO2 emissions and removals (ISPRA 2011a).

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