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Keynote speech by the Italian Ambassador, Gianluigi Benedetti, on the occasion of the “GGX-Global Green Transformation Conference” (Tokyo, 2 October 2023)

Director General Hatakeyama, Ladies and Gentlemen, good morning to all of you. I am very pleased to open the first Session of today’s Conference representing Italy.

I wish to express my appreciation and sincere gratitude to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan for this invitation and for the organization of the “Tokyo GX Week” focused on the need to reach a Global Green Transformation for a shift to economies, societies and industrial structures centered on a net-zero emissions future.

In the transformation towards a climate neutral economy based on a technology neutral approach, Italy believes that industry plays a leading role. Decarbonizing the industry will be in fact essential for two reasons.

One is to maintain a competitive industry in an international market where the cost of the carbon emission will have an increasingly impact on the cost of production. The other is to avoid the economic and social impacts that carbon leakage and the deindustrialization of the most advanced economies could have.

In this context, we believe that the G7 Industrial Decarbonization Agenda (IDA) initiative offers the strategic framework aimed at decarbonizing heavy industry sectors and developing innovative technologies.

At national level, approximately 64% of Italian CO2 equivalent emissions of the industrial sector are related to the chemical, cement, steel, paper, ceramics, glass and foundries sectors.

These hard to convert (hard-to-abate) sectors play a key role in the Italian economic system. They represent 5% of national gross domestic product, employ 700.000 people, hold a significant quota of Italian exports, and are critical in the Italian supply chain, by supplying all downstream sectors and being directly involved in the implementation of circular economy initiatives.

Decarbonizing these sectors, in Italy and elsewhere, requires the adoption of a range of tools and technologies, especially where direct electrification is not possible or it is not implementable due to the type of good produced.

Of course, pursuing energy efficiency is of primary importance: the Italian steel production, for example, is one of the most energy efficient at global level. In addition, the use of renewable and low-carbon gas, such as hydrogen and bio methane as well as carbon capture utilization and storage processes are becoming more and more necessary.

Italy is moving in this direction.  31.5% of the National Recovery & Resilience plan funds – 59.47 billion Euros – are allocated to achieve green and ecological transition by increasing the share of renewable energy sources, developing hydrogen, decarbonizing hard-to-abate industries and moving towards sustainable mobility.

However, not all these solutions are suitable for all production contexts. It is therefore essential to develop an integrated decarbonization strategy that does not exclude any of these options and, at the same time, seeks to promote and facilitate access to the most effective one for each scope.

In this context, as I said in the beginning, the G7 Industrial Decarbonization Agenda offers a strategic framework and during the G7 Japanese Presidency Italy participated in the expert meetings, actively cooperating towards a successful outcome.

Thanks to the Japanese Presidency and the other G7 members, the Industrial Decarbonization Agenda is now contributing to promote cooperation at G7 level and to address Greenhouse gas emissions reduction in the hard-to-abate industrial sectors, promoting near zero industrial production processes.

In view of the upcoming G7 Italian Presidency, we are working now fully committed in the definition of priorities, initiatives and joint actions to carry out on this sector. We will move in strong continuity with the Japanese Presidency, with the objective of broadening the excellent efforts made and the strategic results already achieved this year as highlighted by Director General Hatakeyama.

We will continue to work for a global reduction of the emissions in the hard-to-abate sectors with the strategic involvement of International Agencies and the goal to expand partnerships, support the existing data collection frameworks, and promote innovative clean technologies.

We believe it will be crucial to aim to an approach based both on decarbonization targets and sustainable growth at a global level, involving – where possible – all producing and consuming countries as well as advanced, emerging, and developing countries.

We all know that the “green” transition of heavy industries is a global challenge. This is why multilateral cooperation, within the Industrial Decarbonization Agenda and beyond the G7 members, is a crucial element to ensure the creation of secure, affordable, sustainable and clean energy systems at global level.

The Italian G7 Presidency will start from the legacy of the Japanese Presidency, moving forward on this common path and trying to reach goals that are even more ambitious.

Thank you.