The Environment and Climate Change Law Review: Italy
To appreciate the extreme current significance of the subject matter of the present chapter on the Italian legislative framework, it is sufficient just to remark that the G20 meeting, which was held in Rome on 30–31 October 2021, devoted several sessions to climate change and the environment.
In the face of growing pollution and increasingly frequent ecological disasters, environmental protection has become an imperative challenge for the global community and, in turn, to national legal frameworks all over the world.
In this context, Italian legislation has undergone a serious process of revision, in light of the increasing amount of damage caused by pollution and climate change, which is a phenomenon that knows no geographical boundaries.
The paramount importance of national legislation that is applicable to environmental protection can be clearly exemplified by the adoption of the minimum environmental criteria (CAM) in a central sector such as the public contract one. CAM are mandatory environmental requirements (or evaluation criteria) aimed at selecting the best design solution, product or service under the environmental point of view. While pursuant to European directives, the use of green public procurement remains merely facultative, under Article 34 of Legislative Decree 18 April 2016, No. 50 (the Public Contract Code), the application of such criteria is mandatory for the public tenders that seek an award of contract that falls within one of the productive categories identified by specific decrees of the Minister of Ecological Transition.2
The reformation process also involved the constitutional framework. In this regard, notably, until 2001, in the Italian Fundamental Charter there were no specific provisions that mentioned the 'environment' as an asset or as a value worth of protection. Indeed, for a long time, the protection of this legal asset has been (and still is) traced by way of interpretation of Articles 9 and 32 of the Italian Constitution, which respectively concern the safeguard of the landscape and of health.
In 2001, the concept of environment has been included in Article 117 of the Italian Constitution only for the purpose of formalising the division of competences between the state and the regions, by entrusting the former with the main protection of this asset. Nevertheless, these constitutional advancements still lacked an enforcement aspect because they still did not define its notion, much less include it among the constitutionally guaranteed principles.
As evidence of this ever-growing interest in sustainable development, the Italian Parliament is examining an historic amendment to the constitutional text, aimed at recognising the environmental protection as one of the fundamental principles of the Constitution. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies have approved the draft of a Constitutional law, which would add the following paragraph to Article 9: '[the Republic] protects the environment, biodiversity and ecosystems, also in the interest of future generations. The law of the State regulates the terms and conditions for the protection of animals.'
Therefore, the amended provision should contain the mention of the environmental protection, especially in its declination of the principle of sustainable development and animal protection, after the Republic's obligations towards the protection of culture, research, landscape, historical and artistic heritage.
Sustainable development has likely further application in the proposed amendment to Article 41 of the Constitution, which, in case of approval, would be enriched in Paragraphs 2 and 3.
In particular, in Paragraph 2, damage to health and the environment would be listed among the limits to the exercise of the economic initiative, while in Paragraph 3 it would be envisaged that purposes of environmental protection may also direct and coordinate public economic activity, together with the social purposes already provided for in the current version of the provision.
The essential bulk of the Italian environmental legislation is contained in the Environmental Code approved by Legislative Decree, 3 April 2006, No. 152.
The introduction in the Italian legal framework of a specific body of environmental legislation is the outcome of a long and gradual evolutionary process that began in the early 1980s and culminated with the adoption of the aforementioned Code, which ensured:
- legal protection – albeit sectoral and specific – to individual environmental matrices (e.g., water and soil), characterised by the drafting of tables of pollutants and limits of acceptability (the environmental standards) and the provision of an accurate authorisation regime for fixed sources of pollution; and
- an integrated approach aimed at both preventing and fighting pollution, based on direct and global protection to safeguard the overall quality of the environment, in particular by expressly codifying a definition of 'environment'.
The key point, on which the entire regulatory system of this decree is based, expresses the need to pursue higher levels of wellness and quality for human life, to be achieved by safeguarding and improving the environmental conditions and the careful and rational use of natural resources.
Among the general principles of environmental protection contained in the Environmental Code, the following can be cited:
- the principle of high environmental protection;
- the principle of sustainable development;
- the principles of subsidiarity and of loyal cooperation;
- the polluter pays principle;
- the principle of rectification at the source; and
- the freedom of access to environmental information.
The Environmental Code has been subject to a number of amendments, which have considerably expanded the regulatory framework, to implement the European legislative acts or the environmental case law.
In the past year, the following key developments in the Environmental Code are worth mentioning:
- Law, 29 July 2021, No. 108 of conversion of the Simplification Decree (Decree Law, 31 May 2021, No. 77), which introduced simplification measures to promote circular economy and to accelerate environmental procedures (e.g., amendments to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) regulations, the institution of the EIA Technical Commission for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the national energy and climate plan projects, and simplification measures for the redevelopment of industrial sites);
- Law, 22 April 2021, No. 55, which renamed the Ministry for the Environment and the Protection of Land and Sea (MATTM) as the Ministry for Ecological Transition (MiTE) and the Ministry for infrastructure and transportation as the Ministry for infrastructure and sustainable mobility. In addition, some of the competences previously held by the Ministry of Economic Development were transferred to the MATTM, particularly in the field of energy and climate change; and
- Legislative Decree, 3 September 2020, No. 116 (the Waste Decree), which made a major revision to Part IV of the Environmental Code (in particular, through the redefinition of the urban waste notion, the introduction of the RENTRI – National Electronic Waste Tracking Register, the requirement of a 'disposal certificate', among others).
The decisions of the courts, specifically the Regional Administrative courts and superior court jurisdictions (the Council of State and the Supreme Court), play a fundamental role in environmental law advancement. Thus, operators must be aware of the well-established and current opinions and interpretations in the case law.
In addition, acts of soft law, such as guidelines and recommendations, can provide important support in legislative interpretation and in the understanding of the application policies by the public administrations in charge of public functions in environmental matters.
Administrative functions in environmental matters are allocated as follows:
- state competence (pursuant to Article 117, second Paragraph of the Italian Constitution) – protection of the environment and of the ecosystem are included among the matters reserved for the exclusive legislative competence of the state; and
- regional competence – the cross-cutting nature of the environment justifies regulatory actions by the regions (the conditional regional exercise, see Constitutional Court Nos. 407/2002, 88/2020 and 67/2020).3
At the central level, the principal national authority for environmental matters is the Ministry for Ecological Transition (MiTE), which operates both as a regulator of the sector, through ministerial decrees and general guidelines, and as an enforcer, having, for example, active procedural legitimacy in matters of environmental damage (Article 311, the Environmental Code).
The MiTE was invested with new competences in the fields of energy and climate change (e.g., definition of energy policy objectives and lines, policies for tackling climate change and for sustainable finance and environmental conservation).
In addition, in exercising its powers, the ministry is assisted by:
- the Superior Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), a scientific agency with a regulatory role (see Decree, 21 May 2010, No. 123; Ministerial Decree, 1 March 2018);
- the Superior Health Institute (ISS), responsible for identifying and promoting adequate strategies to prevent the risk of disease caused by environmental factors;
- the Regulatory Authority for Energy, Networks and the Environment (ARERA), which performs regulatory and control activities in the fields of electricity, natural gas, water services and waste management; and
- the Regional Environmental Agencies (ARPA), which carry out monitoring functions at peripheral level based on an agreement between the agencies and the ministry.
At the peripheral level, the main bodies responsible for developing environmental policies and legislation are the regions but they have to exercise their powers in compliance with national legislation.4 More specifically, their competences include planning, issuing general acts, granting authorisations for the construction and operation of waste management power plants and atmospheric emissions, as well as certain SEA and EIA powers not reserved to the state.
Regional legislation delegates to the provinces and metropolitan cities extensive administrative functions, in particular in the field of environmental control and supervision, as well as in the areas of waste management, water pollution and air pollution.
Minor and specific competences remain with the municipalities, such as the authorisation of sewage discharges, the issuing of landscape authorisation and plans for acoustic reclamation and the control of noise emissions, as well as waste collection.
The current environmental protection system favours the prevention of environmental damage, since the first objective of the legal system is to forestall the occurrence of the harmful event.5 In this regard, of particular relevance is Article 301 of the Environmental Code, which concerns the precautionary and preventive principles.6
However, once the damage occurs, the legal system responds through sanctions, as well as restorative and compensatory remedies. Specifically, the enforcement is based on three different types of liability, namely civil, administrative and criminal, which have an increasing level of severity and relevance.
In this particular matter, the main rule underlying environmental protection that comes into play is the polluter pays principle, according to which environmental damage can be attributed according to the subjective criterion.
Notably, however, the legislation on environmental damage contained in Part VI of the Environmental Code establishes:
- an objective liability for damage caused by operators carrying out one of the activities listed in Annex 5; and
- a liability based on the ascertainment of intent or negligence for all other activities (Article 298 bis, Environmental Code).
For the compensation of environmental damage, the Environmental Code provides for two distinct and alternative legal instruments (Article 315, Environmental Code), both of which can be activated by the MiTE, which is responsible for choosing which one to use.
In particular, Article 311 of the Environmental Code regulates the claim for compensation for damage, which may be proposed by the MiTE in civil or criminal proceedings. Alternatively, the MiTE may decide to activate the procedure referred to in Articles 312 et seq.: if environmental damage has been ascertained and the party responsible has not activated the remediation procedure or the prevention and restoration procedures, following the preliminary investigation, the public authority may order the polluter to restore the environment by means of an immediately enforceable order setting a time limit within which the action must be executed (Article 314 of the Environmental Code).
As regards criminal liability:
- Law, 22 May 2015, No. 68 introduced Title VI bis 'Of crimes against the environment' into the Criminal Code. These norms are complementary and supplementary to those providing for criminal sanctions within the Environmental Code; and
- Legislative Decree, 7 July 2011, No. 121 (the 231 Environment) includes environmental offences among the ones that could give rise to the entity's administrative liability.
Reporting and disclosure
Legislative Decree, 30 December 2016, No. 254 provides for a legal obligation to draft and publish a non-financial statement that also includes, among the matters to be covered, the environmental impact of the activities that are carried out.
Specifically, the companies subject to such obligation are the 'public-interest entities', defined by Article 16 of the Legislative Decree, 27 January 2010, No. 39, which must also fulfil certain dimensional characteristics.
From a corporate social responsibility perspective, it should be emphasised that entities, other than those indicated in the aforementioned decree, might still decide to draw up the statement, and that the scope of this decree coincides with the financial sector, which considerably reduces the positive effect on the environmental issue.
The non-financial statement 'to the extent necessary to ensure an understanding of the company's activities, its performance and its results and impacts, covers environmental, social, personnel, human rights and anti-corruption issues, both active and passive, which are relevant in view of the company's activities and characteristics' (see Article 3, Legislative Decree, 30 December 2016, No. 254).
The Environmental Code also contains certain notification requirements: for example, in the event of land contamination, the operator must give specific communication to the municipality, province, and region, in whose territory the damaging event is expected to take place, as well as to the Prefect of the Province who, in the following 24 hours, shall inform the MiTE (Article 304, Environmental Code).7
i Air quality
The primary reference legislation on air pollution is represented by:
- Part V of the Environmental Code (Articles 267–298);
- Legislative Decree, 30 July 2020, No. 102, containing supplementary and corrective provisions to Legislative Decree, 15 November 2017, No. 183, implementing Directive (EU) 2015/2193 on the limitation of emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere from medium-sized combustion power plants. This decree therefore determines the reorganisation of the regulatory framework for power plants that produce emissions into the atmosphere, by amending Part V of Legislative Decree, 3 April 2006, No. 152.
- Legislative Decree, 9 June 2020, No. 47 (implementing Directive (EC) 2018/410 of 14 March 2018), aimed at more cost-effective emission reductions and the promotion of low-carbon investments, with a focus on aviation activity;
- Law, 12 December 2019, No. 141, converting Decree-Law, 14 October 2019, No. 111 (the Climate Decree), which develops a national strategic policy for improving air quality;
- Legislative Decree, 4 March 2014, No. 46 (implementing Directive 2010/75/EC) on industrial emissions, to prevent and mitigate pollution; and
- Legislative Decree, 13 August 2010, No. 155 (the Framework regulation on air pollution control), as amended by Legislative Decree 2012, No. 250, aimed at establishing and defining environmental air quality standards to avoid, prevent or reduce harmful effects on human health. This decree also identifies the authorities responsible for carrying out air quality assessments, as well as for drafting Restoration Plans in areas in which the limit values have been exceeded.
Generally, according to Article 268 of the Environmental Code, air pollution is defined as any change in the air due to the emission of substances that is likely to affect or endanger human health or the quality of the environment.
All power plants that produce polluting emissions into the atmosphere are subject to an authorisation system. The operator who intends to install or transfer a power plant from one place to another or to make a substantial change to a power plant is therefore required to apply for a licence, in which all emission factors must be specifically indicated.
Since the purpose of the normative is to protect air quality, the authorisation constitutes the instrument by which the public administration can verify in advance the compliance with the law requirements. The absence of such authorisation is deemed to be an offence of abusive exercise of activities that produce emissions into the atmosphere (see Supreme Court, Criminal Section VI, 17 April 2019, No. 16669, Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 29 January 2019, No. 4250; Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 14 March 2017, No. 50632; Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 19 July 2017, No. 35752).8
In any case, power plants that could potentially generate emissions, but do not actually produce them, are exempt: for the emission of substances into the atmosphere (whether hazardous or not) in the absence of a permit, proof of the actual production of emissions is required, as the mere potential production of polluting emissions is not sufficient (see Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 29 December 2020, No. 37603; Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 1 July 2019, No. 28355).9
To obtain the aforementioned emission permit, Legislative Decree, 3 April 2006, No. 152 provides for two different procedures: the ordinary and the simplified. The former applies to all power plants, unless otherwise provided. It consists of three stages:
- permit application;
- preliminary investigation; and
- decision and verification.
The competent authorities grant this permit with a validity of 15 years.
As for power plants generating emissions of minor relevance to air pollution, the simplified procedure shall be applied as specified in Article 272 of the Environmental Code. Specifically, the operators have to submit the permit application to the competent authority at least 45 days before the installation of the power plant. After 45 days from the application, this general authorisation becomes effective.
The penalties applied in cases of breaches of the regulations on atmospheric emissions are laid down in Articles 278 and 279 of the Environmental Code. In particular, the competent authority is granted increasingly severe sanctioning powers, depending on the seriousness of the operators' conduct. The authority may adopt measures of mere warning with a deadline that prescribes to remove the irregularity or suspend the authorisation of power plants and all related activities if a situation of danger to health or the environment arises.
In the event of failure to comply with the prescriptions given, the competent authority may also revoke the authorisation.
The ordinance measures provided for by Article 278 of the Decree must be exercised according to a gradual and progressive criterion and by balancing environmental protection and production interests.10
ii Water quality
The main reference legislation for water protection consists of the following:
- Part III of the Environmental Code (Articles 73–176);
- Law, 27 December 2017, No. 205 (the National plan for investments in the water sector), which provides measures for the purpose of planning and implementation of the interventions necessary to mitigate the damage related to the drought phenomenon and to promote the strengthening and adaptation of water infrastructures, as well as to reduce the dispersion of water resources, normally updated every two years and divided into two sections: the 'reservoirs' section and the 'aqueducts' section;
- Legislative Decree, 13 October 2015, No. 172 (implementation of Directive 2013/39/EC amending Directive 2000/60/EC), regarding priority substances in the field of water policy;
- Legislative Decree, 8 October 2011, No. 176 implementing Directive 2009/54/EC on the use and commercialisation of natural mineral waters;
- Legislative Decree, 10 December 2010, No. 219 (implementing Directive 2008/105/EC) on environmental quality standards in the field of water policy laying down, in accordance with Directive 2000/60/EC, technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of water status;
- Legislative Decree, 16 March 2009, No. 30 (implementing Directive 2006/118/EC) on the protection of groundwater against pollution and deterioration;
- Legislative Decree, 30 May 2008, No. 116 (implementing Directive 2006/7/EC) on the management of bathing water quality and repealing Directive 76/160/EC; and
- Legislative Decree 2 February 2001, No. 31, which implements Directive 98/83/EC concerning the quality of water intended for human consumption to protect human health from the adverse effects of water contamination. The above-mentioned directive has now been repealed by Directive (EC) 2020/2184, which entered into force on 12 January 2021 and requires the member states to transpose it by 12 January 2023.
In addition, still on the subject of water, it is also worth mentioning:
- the Ministerial Decree of 30 June 2021 that modified the parametric value of chromium in drinking water as set out in Annex I, Part B of Legislative Decree, 2 February 2001, No. 31;
- Law, 30 December 2020, No. 178 (2021 Budget Law) that instituted:
- the 'fund for the saving of water resources' to recognise, for individuals who are resident in Italy, a 'water bonus' equal to €1,000 for each beneficiary, to be used by 31 December 2021, for the replacement of sanitary ware and water flow-limiting devices on existing buildings or parts thereof, or on individual property units, including any related plumbing and masonry work; and
- the 'fund for the promotion of the responsible use of water resource', intended for the implementation of information campaigns for users of the integrated water service, with an allocation of €500,000 for each of the years 2021 and 2022; tax credit for the purchase of drinking water filtering systems, for an overall limit of €5 million for each of the years 2021 and 2022, with the aim of optimising the use of water and reducing the consumption of plastic containers for drinking water;
- the measures envisaged by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan in the water sector, such as:
- investments in primary water infrastructure for the security of water supply;
- reduction of losses in water distribution networks through the digitalisation and monitoring of networks (€900 million);
- investments in sewerage and purification (€600 million); and
- regulatory simplification and strengthening of governance for the implementation of investments in water supply infrastructure and to ensure full management capacity of integrated water services; and
- the Salvamare Draft Law, which is currently being examined by Parliament – its purpose is to contribute to the restoration of the marine ecosystem and to the promotion of the circular economy, as well as to raise public awareness for the dissemination of virtuous behavioural models aimed at preventing the dumping of waste at sea, in lakes, rivers and lagoons, and its proper management.
The matter of water protection involves both the state and the concurrent competences of the regions. In particular, the Legislative Decree, 3 April 2006, No. 152 provides for a system of allocation of regulatory and administrative competences on the different levels of government: state, regions and local authorities.
The reasoning behind this legislative choice can be traced back to the intention to keep all at a central level to ensure uniform control and governance; that is, the determination of common methods and criteria for cognitive activity, planning, programming and implementation activities, as well as high supervision and guidance. Conversely, it has been decided that almost all administrative activity relating to the protection and use of water (including the instrumental activity of other public and private bodies operating in the sector, such as basin authorities, reclamation consortia and irrigation consortia) must be left to the regulatory and administrative competences of the regions, together with local authorities.
With regard to discharges, according to Article 124 of Legislative Decree, 3 April 2006, No. 152, all discharges must be regulated in accordance with the quality objectives of the water bodies and must comply with the emission limit values set forth in Annex 5.
Water legislation is based on the general principle that all discharges must be authorised in advance, in accordance with Article 124 of the Environmental Code. Therefore, anyone who carries out or undertakes an activity that involves a discharge is required to apply for a permit, which is issued to the holder of the activity from which the discharge originates (Article 124, Paragraph 2, Environmental Code). The prevailing case law finds in this requirement the need for the authorisation to be issued intuitu personae (see Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 10 May 2016, No. 35850).
For the same reason, some criminal judges identify the offence of discharge without authorisation as a reato proprio, that is, an offence that can only be committed by a person with particular requirements – in this case, the owner of the activity or by the manager or operator of the treatment power plant.11
The administrative offences relating to the protection of water against pollution are contained in Articles 133 and 134 of the Environmental Code, while the provisions on criminal offences are contained in Article 137.
The legislation governing chemicals is contained in the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation (Regulation (EC), 18 December 2006, No. 1907/2006) and in the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) (Regulation (EC), 16 December 2008, No. 1272/2008). Both regulations are complementary for the purpose of regulating substances and chemicals:
- REACH generally applies to all chemical substances that provide a common legislative framework to ensure comprehensive, timely and up-to-date knowledge of the risks arising from the use of hazardous materials on the market in the European Union and EEA countries; and
- CLP establishes rules for the classification of substances and mixtures and for the labelling and packaging of hazardous substances and chemicals, to guarantee the protection of human health and the environment on a global scale and, at the same time, to promote international trade.
REACH also provides for the establishment of a European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), responsible at the European level for monitoring the implementation of the REACH Regulation.
In Italian legislation, the controls relating to the application and compliance with REACH have been well defined by the Agreement of 29 October 2009 between the government, the regions and the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano and are assigned to the Ministry of Health, which must ensure the proper implementation of the above-mentioned system (see Ministerial Decree 22 November 2007). The Ministry of Health works with the technical support of ISPRA and the National Centre for Chemical Substances, Cosmetic Products and Consumer Protection (CNSC).
On this matter, Italian experience constitutes an example of shared governance by ensuring the involvement of all administrations with specific protection interests, such as human health, the environment and industrial competitiveness.
Other relevant regulatory sources in relation to REACH and CLP Regulations are as follows:
- Legislative Decree, 10 February 2017, No. 28, regarding sanctions for the violation of the provisions of Regulation (EC) No. 649/2012 on the export and import of dangerous chemicals;
- Legislative Decree, 15 June 2016, No. 124, introducing amendments to Legislative Decree, 4 March 2014, No. 27 on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment;
- Legislative Decree, 27 October 2011, No. 186, laying down sanctions for infringement of the provisions of Regulation (EC) No. 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures, amending and repealing Directives 67/548/EEC and 1999/45/EC, and amending Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006;
- Legislative Decree, 14 September 2009, No. 133, containing sanctions for the violation of the provisions of Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006;
- Decree of the Minister of Economic Development, 13 March 2009, concerning a programme for the financing of product or process innovation interventions, or both, aimed at replacing 'extremely worrying' chemicals in production processes; and
- Decree of the Ministry of Health, 22 November 2007, containing the plan of activities and use of resources concerning the fulfilments required by the REACH Regulation.
iv Solid and hazardous waste
The current regulations on waste are based on the general principles that derive from Directive 2008/98/EC, as amended by Directive 2018/851/EC.
These norms are laid down in Part IV of Legislative Decree, 3 April 2006, No. 152 (Articles 177–266). In particular, regarding solid and hazardous waste, a distinction shall be made between:
- the general discipline (Articles 177–216 ter) that refers to the scope of application, general principles, waste prevention, producer responsibility, by-products, the end of waste, waste classification, expertise, service and authorisations; and
- special regulations (Articles 217–238) regarding certain specific types of waste and the related consortia (e.g., packaging, electrical and electronic equipment, waste deriving from building maintenance activities, tires, end-of-life vehicles, residues produced by smoke, exhausted oil and fats) as well as the incineration and co-incineration of waste.
With reference to the general discipline, more specifically to the initial section of Part IV of the Environmental Code (Article 177), waste management is considered as an activity of public interest.12
In this regard, Article 178 expressly states the principles, in the light of which the activity has to be conducted. Along with the European principles of precaution, prevention and of the polluter pays – to be applied to the entities involved – are also included the principle of sustainability, proportionality and cooperation, in addition to respecting the criteria of effectiveness, efficiency, economy, transparency and technical and economic feasibility, as well as compliance with current legislation on participation and access to environmental information.
Furthermore, to prevent a product from prematurely becoming a waste, Article 179 promotes the waste hierarchy; that is, an order of priorities consisting of the following activities: prevention, preparation for reuse, recycling, some other type of reuse, such as the energy reuse, and disposal.
In light of the new impetus and fostering of the circular economy, a wide-ranging system of producer liability was introduced by Article 178 bis of the Environmental Code (implementing Directive No. 98/2008).
The Environmental Code clearly establishes that, pursuant to Article 188, the initial producer of waste (Article 183, Paragraph 1.f, Environmental Code) and any other holder are responsible for the entire waste disposal or recovery cycle, which means that anyone who transfers their waste to others must ensure that the operations are carried out correctly. The aforesaid operators are exempted from such a legal responsibility only if they transfer the waste to parties authorised to carry out recovery or disposal activities, on condition that the producer is in possession of the form referred to in Article 193, signed and dated on arrival at the consignee within three months of the date on which the waste was transferred to the transporter, or, on expiry of the aforesaid term, the province has been notified that the form has not been received. In addition, those involved in the transport, recycling and disposal of waste have to provide financial guarantees.
Pursuant to Article 184 ter, a waste ceases to be identified as such and obtains the classification of 'product' when it has undergone a recovery operation, including recycling, and satisfies the specific criteria, to be adopted in compliance with the following conditions:
- the substance or object is commonly used for specific purposes;
- a market or demand exists for that substance or object;
- the substance or object meets the technical requirements for the specific purposes and conforms to existing standards applicable to products; and
- the use of the substance or object will not lead to overall negative impacts on the environment or human health.13
In this regard, Legislative Decree, 18 April 2019, No. 32 (the Sblocca-Cantieri Decree), converted into law, 14 June 2019, No. 55 amended Article 184 ter, Paragraph 3, according to which the regions will only be able to issue authorisations in compliance with specific criteria, which can be traced in ministerial decrees14 and no longer on a case-by-case basis, and the Ministry of the Environment will also have to provide guidelines on the matter.
In addition, with the introduction of Law, 29 July 2021, No. 108 converting the Simplification Decree, to simplify the 'End of Waste' regulations, ISPRA or ARPA has to provide an opinion, which is mandatory and binding to authorise waste recycling activities (Article 184 ter, Paragraph 3, Environmental Code). The subsequent control of the Ministry of the Environment and related activities that were foreseen in the old legislative framework are abolished.
In line with the new European action plan, Article 35 of Simplification Decree provides for simplification measures, intervening on several articles regarding waste management. More specifically, these changes concern:
- the definition of urban waste: the words 'and assimilated' in Part IV, Title I, concerning waste management are deleted wherever they occur. The same deletion is made with reference to Article 258, Paragraph 7, located in Title VI, Chapter I, of the Environmental Code regarding sanctions. The amendment in question is therefore aimed at adapting the norms with the changes introduced by Legislative Decree, 3 September 2020, No. 116;
- full replacement of the list of waste in Annex D, Part IV of the Environmental Code (among the changes is the elimination of the EWC code 070218 rubber scraps); and
- responsibility for the correct disposal of the waste is attributed to the person who carries out these operations, excluding the liability of waste producers (Article 188, Paragraph 5, Environmental Code).
In addition to the above, a summary of the main waste management norms that have been issued recently is provided below:
- Ministerial Decrees, 28 September 2021, Nos. 396, 397 and 398 (the Circular Economy Decrees), which set out the selection criteria for new waste management facility projects and initiatives with a high innovative content for certain key supply chains, such as electronics and ICT, paper and cardboard, plastics and textiles. Ministerial Decree, No. 398, however, allocates €500 million to equip Italy with technologically advanced monitoring and prevention tools to protect the territory and infrastructures, prevent illegal waste dumping and fires, and optimise emergency management;
- Ministerial Decree, 27 August 2021, containing the guidelines for the drafting of the External Emergency Plan (EEP) imposing, within 60 days from the entry into force of the aforementioned decree (i.e., by 6 December 2021), the transmission to the Prefect of all information for drafting or updating the External Emergency Plan (EEP). The Prefect shall, within 12 months of receiving the necessary information, draw up the External Emergency Plan;
- Directorial Decree, 9 August 2021, No. 47 containing the guidelines on waste classification following the amendments introduced by Legislative Decree, 3 September 2020, No. 116; and
- Ministerial Decree, 22 September 2020, No. 188 containing regulations governing the end of waste status of paper and cardboard, pursuant to Article 184 ter, Paragraph 2 of Legislative Decree, No. 152 of 3 April 2006.
v Contaminated land
In the context of the reorganisation of environmental legislation, the Environmental Code has also revised the norms regarding the recovery of contaminated sites, repealing Article 17 of Legislative Decree, 5 February 1997, No. 22 and its implementing regulation (Ministerial Decree, 25 October 1999, No. 471).
Title V of the IV part of the Environmental Code currently regulates the remediation and environmental recovery of contaminated sites and defines the procedures, criteria and modalities for carrying out the operations necessary for the removal of the sources of pollution in accordance with the principles and standards, with particular reference to the polluter pays principle.
The purpose of such discipline is to guarantee the protection of the territory through activities such as investigation, planning, programming and enforcement.
Remediation and environmental restoration measures for polluted areas are regulated by the regions through specific plans, except for the competences and procedures foreseen for sites of national interest.
In fact, Italy is one of the few countries to have a national remediation programme developed by the Ministry for Sites of National Interest, for the implementation of which state funds are allocated, compared to many countries that often resort to public-private partnerships to finance remediation.
With the adoption of the Environmental Code, as in most European and non-European countries, there has been a transition from a purely tabular criterion for the identification of a contaminated site to a mixed criterion, namely tabular screening values. In the event that the screening values are exceeded, an absolute risk analysis shall be performed to identify whether there is a real and present risk to human health and to the environment. If the conclusion is affirmative, the absolute risk analysis is then applied to identify the remediation objectives for the soils and for the water.
The legislator, under Article 240, provides a series of technical definitions to correctly understand the scope of such regulations. First, in the light of the legislation, a site is considered contaminated when the values of the risk threshold concentrations (CSRs), as determined through the application of the risk analysis procedure and based on the results of the characterisation plan, are exceeded. Therefore, exceeding the risk threshold concentration values gives rise to the duty to secure the site and proceed to remediation.
The CSRs are the contamination levels of the environmental matrices, and hence represent the acceptable limits of the concentration, as well as the objectives to be pursued through the recovery activity.
Conversely, exceeding the CSCs only implies the duty to carry out the characterisation and analysis of the potential site-specific risks. Characterisation and risk assessment operations allow the identification of the site state, having as reference point the CSRs.
Finally, via the Simplification Decree, several new aspects have been introduced, including:
- simplification of the remediation procedures relating to National Interest Sites (Article 252, Environmental Code);
- interruption of the remediation procedure if the person responsible for the contamination voluntarily completes the characterisation plan within the peremptory term of six months from the approval or communication referred to in Article 252, Paragraph 4 of the Environmental Code (Article 245, Environmental Code);
- issuance by the region of a formal notice to comply within thirty days, if the province does not release the certification within 30 days of receipt of the technical report drafted by the competent Regional Environmental Protection Agency (Article 248, Environmental Code); and
- the opportunity for the regions, autonomous provinces and local authorities identified as beneficiaries or operators, or both, to use, by entering into specific agreements, the in-house companies of the same ministry (Article 250, Environmental Code).
As regards the subjective profile, the legislation is inspired by the aforementioned polluter pays principle, according to which remedial measures can be imposed on the accountable parties: the public authority can impose its measures on the polluters, first certifying the causal connection between the conduct and the damage caused to the site.15
Despite this, the position of the non-responsible owner, who is obliged to inform the public administration on the existence of the pollution, presents some critical profiles. Such obligations were first introduced by the Environmental Code and then reaffirmed in the courts (including in 2017, the European Court of Justice). According to Article 240, Paragraph 1, letter i of the Environmental Code, the obligation of the non-accountable landowner shall be limited only to preventive measures; that is, those intended to tackle an immediate danger to health or the environment that may occur in the near future.16
i Framework legislation
One of the most significant environmental issues is currently the fight against climate change, considered to be among the greatest environmental, legal, social and economic challenges of our time.
Member States, including Italy, have identified coordinated and shared strategies to mitigate polluting emissions and limit climate change, increasingly since the signing of the Paris Agreement in December 2015.
The aim of the Paris Agreement, which was to contain the increase in temperatures to two degrees above pre-industrial levels, was linked to a double track of action:
- the implementation of mitigation measures in order to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG); and
- the definition of adaptation measures, to strengthen the capacity of societies to cope with the impacts of change by promoting climate resilience. The agreement required parties to adopt national climate change measures without imposing effective constraints.
Following the Paris Agreement, we have witnessed a constant increase and development of the discipline related to the implementation of policies to contrast climate change.
In this regard, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Environment and Protection of Land and Sea, and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport developed the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan 2030, considered a first step towards a deep decarbonisation of the nation that should occur no later than 2050. The plan aims to streamline economic transformation from a perspective in which environmental targets are pursued to specifically promote decarbonisation, circular economy and efficiency, as well as the rational and equal use of natural resources. This action includes horizontal measures (e.g., integration of new technologies) and sectoral measures (e.g., policies to promote renewable energy).
On 10 October 2019, the Council of Ministers unanimously approved the Climate Decree, which implemented the urgent European Directive 50/2008 on air quality. The decree provided for the creation of an inter-ministerial commission to combat climate change and promote air quality, and incentives and bonuses for those who behave in an environmentally conscious and sustainable manner.
New initiatives included increased sustainable mobility, funds to reforest metropolitan cities, creation of green corners in stores where products without plastic packaging are sold and measures to improve the clean-up of illegal landfills and water purification.
Furthermore, other relevant norms on climate change are worth mentioning:
- Regulation 1119/2021 of 30 June 2021 establishes the general framework for climate neutrality (European Climate Act). The European Climate Act turns into law the target set by the European Green Deal to make Europe's economy and society climate neutral by 2050. The law also fixes the intermediate target of reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels;
- Law Decree, 9 June 2021, No. 80 establishes an additional body, namely the special envoy for climate change who is appointed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Minister of Ecological Transition;
- Law, 22 April 2021, No. 55, which provides for the approval by CIPESS (Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning and Sustainable Development) of the ecological transition plan, to coordinate a series of environmental policies and actions, including those related to mitigation and adaptation to climate change;
- Directorial Decree, 15 April 2021, No. 177, which sets forth the experimental programme of climate change actions in urban areas to increase the resilience of settlement systems subject to the risks generated by climate change; and
- Legislative Decree, 9 June 2020, No. 47 (Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) Decree) on emissions and the fight against climate change.
The prevention and the reaction to the climate change also involve the local bodies, which are defining the Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP), among others. SECAPs identify measures for adaptation to climate change – as previously mentioned with reference to the Paris Agreement – by proposing concrete actions, with the ambitious aim of developing local governance policies to make cities resilient to climate change.
The policies of SECAPs become binding under the condition that they have been transposed in urban plans, but such transposition implies significant consequences with the regulation of the governance of the territory. These complications are particularly evident in the case of the SECAP for the Venice lagoon, where the presence of several municipalities on the lagoon and of different public interests make complex the individuation of the competent body for the adoption of the SECAP and for the implementation of its measures.17
ii Climate change litigation
In such a legislative framework, climate litigation is now a key component of global climate governance. Climate litigation is included among the broader category of 'strategic litigation', as it represents and promotes a need for change. The term 'strategic litigation' refers to a particular category of litigation promoted with the intention of evolving the legal system beyond the boundaries of existing legislation.
Although climate litigation has awakened the attention of Member States to environmental policies, it hides some pitfalls for legal science because it tries to allocate decisions of a properly political or administrative nature to those exercising judicial power, with the risk of generating confusion about the function of judges and governments.18
In Italy, the only remedy that can be activated now seems to be ordinary civil liability governed by Article 2043 of the Civil Code, according to which 'any intentional or negligent act that causes unjust damage to others obliges the person who committed the act to compensate for the damage.' In the case in question, the insufficient exercise of public powers designed to protect human health and the healthy environment would allow before the civil courts the assertion of damage to health, which can be claimed by any individual citizen pursuant to Article 32 of the Constitution.
The initiative, which was promoted for the first time in Italy with the Giudizio Universale case,19 seems to be moving in this direction. Two hundred plaintiffs and 24 associations, active in environmental justice and in the defence of human rights, decided to take legal action against the Italian state for climate non-compliance; in other words, for insufficient commitment to the promotion of adequate policies to reduce climate-changing emissions, resulting in the violation of numerous fundamental rights recognised by the Italian state. The legal action would be based on the results of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in the context of the awareness campaign called Giudizio Universale and is fully in line with other climate litigation carried out in various countries around the world.
Outlook and conclusions
In the aftermath of the covid-19 pandemic, the focus on sustainability and the Green Deal has grown exponentially, as evidenced by its inclusion in the European Recovery Plan.
As European Commission President, Mrs. Von der Leyen emphasised, in line with the principle of economic policy integration and sustainability, that the plan should integrate green and digital transition into economic recovery, since the way out of the current pandemic should be based on a coordinated project with sustainability at its core.
Italy, also under the impetus of the European directives, has become increasingly aware of the importance of environmental issues, coming to conceive of the environment as freedom to enjoy existing natural resources that are capable of satisfying the primary needs of human life and having a responsibility to protect these resources, while respecting other living beings, man and future generations.
As evidence of how the environmental issue has now captured and deeply permeated public opinion and the conscience of community, the proposal to amend the constitutional text by including a specific provision on the protection of the environment will be of substantial relevance in environmental matters and will therefore aim to form a genuine value-based choice on the part of the national legislator.
Moreover, in light of the increased stimulus for investment in sustainability generated by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, the following work is in progress:
- the adoption of national air pollution control programmes. The reform aims to harmonise national and regional legislation, and introduce measures to reduce GHG emissions (in accordance with the standards set forth by Directive 2016/2284/EU on national emission ceilings) and climate-altering gases;
- the digitisation of national parks with the aim of intervening in the dynamics that govern the management of all 24 national parks and 31 marine protected areas, through the implementation of standardised and digitised procedures on three strategic areas for the modernisation, efficiency and effectiveness of action of protected areas;
- the remediation of 'orphan sites' with the aim of recovering polluted 'orphan' sites, encouraging their reintegration into the real estate market, reducing environmental impact and promoting the circular economy. The project will use the best available innovative survey technologies to identify the real remediation needs and enable the development of the areas;
- the construction of new waste management facilities and modernisation of existing ones. The Commission VIII (Environment) is currently examining Draft Law C. 1792, which contains 'provisions for the increase of power plants for the pre-treatment, selection of the organic fraction and packaging and energy recovery of urban, assimilated and special non-hazardous waste, as well as measures to promote the circular economy'; and
- culture and awareness on environmental issues and challenges. This investment aims to contribute to increase the level of awareness on climate change scenarios and their consequences; to educate on the adoption of more sustainable lifestyles and consumption at the level of individuals, families and communities; to promote virtuous behaviours, also at the community level (e.g., involving teachers, families and local stakeholders).
These represent some of the sustainability challenges that Italy will have to face in the coming years. The measures to be implemented are complex but necessary to cope with critical environmental and climate change issues so that Italy remains competitive with other countries and can embrace a future that is more digital, more sustainable and more resilient.
1 Andreina Degli Esposti is co-founding partner at VILDE – Studio Legale Villata Degli Esposti e Associati.
2 To date, CAM have been adopted for 18 product categories (the most recent CAM have approved by decree the product categories of textiles, sanitation of healthcare structures, vehicles and public green areas). In this regard, it is worth mentioning a very recent ruling of the Council of State that affirmed that the duty to apply these criteria does not apply to in-house providing (Teckal exemption) (Council of State, Section IV, 22 October 2021, No. 7093).
3 According to the Constitutional Court, 26 July 2002, No. 407, the environmental protection does not seem to be configurable as a strictly delimited sphere of state competence, since, on the contrary, it invests in other interests and competences. Hence, 'the environment as a constitutionally protected 'value' delineates a sort of 'transversal' matter, in respect of which different competences are manifested, which may well be regional'.
Constitutional Court, 20 May 2020, No. 88 affirms that 'the fact that the 'protection of the environment and the ecosystem' is one of those falling within the exclusive competence of the State does not mean that the State's rules in any event constrain the autonomy of the Regions, since the cross-cutting nature of the subject matter, and therefore its potential to extend even within the scope of regional competences, does not affect the right of the Regions to adopt, in the exercise of their legislative powers, higher standards of protection.'
Constitutional Court, 16 May 2020, No. 63 states that 'the exercise of regional legislative competence is therefore limited by the State's rules on environmental protection, without prejudice to the Regions' right to prescribe higher levels of environmental protection than those laid down by the State.'
4 Constitutional Court, 7 October 2021, No. 189 states that 'in the field of environmental protection the regional legislation may not, within its own territorial context, introduce laws governing administrative functions which alter the system of competences laid down by State law, since that law is a limit which cannot be derogated from.'
Council of Administrative Justice Sicily, Section I, 19 April 2021, No. 332 states that 'the Regions may exercise administrative functions of protection only if and to the extent that they are conferred on them by the State, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity laid down in Article 118(1) of the Constitution and in this context they are required to comply with the rules laid down by State laws which, in the field of protection, provide for the conferral of specific administrative functions on the Regions, requiring compliance with the principle of cooperation between the State and the Regions in the exercise of those functions.'
5 Council of State, Section IV, 1 April 2020, No. 2195 states that 'the protection of the environment is recognised at a constitutional level on the basis of norms that are not merely programmatic, but perceptive, which consider any conduct that infringes the asset under protection as a legal offence, especially if the offence is carried out in the performance of activities that are intrinsically dangerous by their nature or in the context of a business initiative that is inter alia linked to safeguarding the environment.'
6 With regard to the precautionary and preventive principles see: T.A.R. Umbria, Perugia, Section I, 31 May 2021, No. 416, which states that 'the precautionary principle presupposes the existence of a specific risk at the outcome of an exhaustive assessment, carried out in the light of the most reliable data available and which must conclude with a judgement of strict necessity of the measure.'
T.A.R. Valle d'Aosta, 29 April 2021, No. 32 states that 'the precautionary principle could be defined as a general principle of EU law which obliges the competent authorities to take appropriate measures to prevent certain potential risks to public health, safety and the environment. And since it is complementary to the precautionary principle, it is also characterised by protection in advance of the application of the best available techniques, thus not requiring control of the activity to be carried out in order to prevent damage, but imposes verification in advance that the activity does not harm man or the environment.'
As for the application of the principles of prevention and remediation of environmental damage in the Sites of Community Importance (SCI), case law states that 'the measures, works and activities carried out within the so-called Sites of Community Importance must meet precise and specific protection and conservation objectives. If such works, interventions or activities are carried out in the absence of the procedure of assessment of impact, therefore in contrast with those objectives, they entail, inter alia, the obligation of restoration at the expense of the responsible.' (Supreme Court, United Civil Section, Ordinance, 21 October 2021, No. 29300).
7 Supreme Court, Section 3, 23 January 2020, No. 2686 states that 'the evident purpose of the provision is to sanction the failure to provide prior notification of the potentially polluting event to the subjects identified by the law, so that they are aware of the situation and can verify the development of remedial activities, The reference to paragraph 1 of Article 242 leads to the conclusion that the obligations to notify arise from the mere fact that a situation of potential danger has occurred, regardless, therefore, of whether the contamination thresholds have been exceeded.'
8 Supreme Court, Criminal Section VI, 17 April 2019, No. 16669 states that 'in the event that the activity is carried out without first obtaining the authorisation the criminal offence of abusive exercise of activities producing emissions into the atmosphere is committed [… by anyone who starts to install a power plant without the necessary authorisation or who continues to operate with the authorisation expired, lapsed, suspended or revoked.'
9 Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 1 July 2019, No. 28355 states that 'in order to identify the criminal offence referred to in Article 279 of Legislative Decree no. 152/2006 for the emission into the atmosphere of substances (whether hazardous or not) in the absence of authorisation, proof of the actual production of emissions by the power plant is required, as the mere potential production of polluting emissions is not sufficient.'
10 T.A.R. Abruzzo, Pescara, Section I, 25 October 2018, No. 316 states that 'the ordinance measures provided for by Article 278 of the Decree must be exercised according to a gradual and progressive criterion and by balancing environmental protection and production interests, they must be aimed, as a first step, at removing the irregularities by reducing the authorised activities to compliance, and only as a last instance, if the violations persist, they can culminate in the revocation of the single environmental authorisation.'
11 Council of Administrative Justice Sicily, 19 April 2021, No. 332 states that 'Pursuant to Article 124 of Legislative Decree No. 152 of 2006, all discharges must be authorised in advance.
The authorisation regime for discharges of domestic waste water and sewage networks, whether or not they are served by urban waste water treatment power plants, is defined by the Regions within the framework of the regulations set out in Article 101 of Legislative Decree 52/2006.'
Supreme Court, Criminal Section III, 15 March 2019, No. 11518 states that 'Article 124 of Legislative Decree no. 152 of 2006 provides for the necessary prior authorisation for all discharges, also indicating the procedure for its issuance and authorisation, as has been often affirmed by the case law of this Court, cannot be replaced by any equivalent, [...] The purpose of the authorisation is, in fact, to allow a prior verification of the compliance of an activity, potentially dangerous for the environment, with the provisions of the law.'
12 T.A.R Puglia, Bari, Section II, 4 March 2019, No. 342 states that 'Presidential Decree no. 915 of 10 September 1982 defined waste disposal activity as being in the 'public interest', including the sub-activities of conferring, collecting and sweeping, sorting, transporting, treating, storing, depositing and dumping.'
13 Council of State, Section 4, 26 July 2021, No. 5535 states that 'Article 184 ter was introduced into the Environmental Code in the context of the transposition of European Directive 2008/98/EC (Legislative Decree 205/10), which provides for the possibility for Member States to establish, by issuing specific measures, criteria that meet a high standard of environmental and human health protection so that certain types of waste cease to be classified as waste following a complete recovery operation.'
14 Ministerial Decree, 5 February 1998; Ministerial Decrees, Nos. 269 and 161, 2005.
15 Council of State, Section IV, 7 January 2021, No. 172 states that 'it is necessary to carry out a strict assessment in order to identify the person responsible for the pollution, who has put in place an active or omissive conduct, and the causal connection between the conduct of the person responsible and the effect consisting in the contamination, and that assessment presupposes an adequate preliminary investigation, since it is not possible to configure, as has been said, a kind of objective liability falling to the owner or possessor of the property in reason and of that quality.'
16 T.A.R. Toscana, Florence, Section II, 4 October 2021, No. 1265 states that 'the European legal principle of 'the polluter pays', referred to in Articles 242 and 244 of Legislative Decree 152/2006, relates to the application of the obligation imposed by the law to carry out the remediation, which must be imposed on persons who have some responsibility for causing the pollution, while it cannot be imposed on persons who are not responsible for it, such as the owner who is totally unrelated to the pollution.'
17 The Venice case deserves special attention because it is one of the cities where climate change is beginning to show clear effects as a result of rising sea levels, a process that is already underway and not reversible and that, in the Venetian lagoon, the issue of subsidence, namely the sinking of the soil, is also important. The city of Venice is implementing several measures in the field of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Since 2011 it adhered to the Covenant of Mayors and since 2012 it was part of the international network C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group of cities joined to tackle climate change. On 30 April 2020, the city council decided to join the new Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, which will lead to the drafting of a new SECAP by 2022. The adoption of this plan implies the involvement of all the administrations operating in the lagoon from the beginning of the drafting process.
18 Constitutional Court, 18 November 2020, No. 237 states that 'the support system for renewable energy sources is intended to achieve a number of objectives, including environmental protection and the implementation of energy-saving and energy-efficiency mechanisms at all levels, which make it possible to achieve the sustainable development of society with a lower use of energy, thus meeting the needs of present generations without compromising the quality of life and the opportunities of future generations. As this Court has emphasised, international legislation (the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted on 11 December 1997) and EU legislation strongly favour renewable energy sources with a view to eliminating dependence on fossil fuels (Judgments No. 148 of 2019 and No. 85 of 2012).'
Supreme Court, Section VI, Ordinance 4 February 2021, No. 2572 states that 'This interpretation is also in line with the favourable attitude of the national legislator and the European Union towards the principle of maximising the use of renewable energy sources. In this sense, Article 194(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union of 25 March 1957 - the so-called Treaty of Rome - states that 'in the context of the creation of a common market for renewable energy sources, the European Union shall take the necessary measures to promote the use of renewable energy sources'. We cannot fail to mention the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. […] Finally, the Paris Agreement signed on 22 April 2016, the first universal and legally binding agreement on climate change, adopted at the Paris Climate Conference held from 30 November to 11 December 2015, ratified by the European Union and all its countries and entered into force on 4 November 2016, which, as part of the objective of curbing global warming, strongly encourages the use of renewable energies.'
19 'Giudizio Universale' is the name given to the preliminary campaign for this judgement, which represents the first climate case in Italy. The legal action is addressed to the Italian state, through a writ of summons before the Civil Court of Rome. The request made in the action concerns the condemnation of the Italian state to achieve a drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, to meet the Paris Climate Agreement's objective of limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5 C and in any case well below 2 C by the end of the century.