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Francesco Starace’s speech at the Ambrosetti Forum

Starace: the European Union’s delay in achieving decarbonization and the possible solutions


Europe is destined to play a fundamental role in the energy transition. This is the picture which emerges from the “European governance of the energy transition” study, which was prepared by the Enel Foundation and The European House – Ambrosetti in collaboration with Enel. It was presented by Enel’s CEO Francesco Starace, together with Valerio De Molli, Managing Partner and CEO of The European House – Ambrosetti, on September 4, during the Ambrosetti Forum, which was held in Cernobbio.

The European Union has fallen behind in implementing its decarbonization targets: according to the study, at the current pace, it would reach its target after 2050. Europe is also lagging behind when it comes to the other new targets that were set for renewables (40%) and energy efficiency (+36%). These were due to be reached in 2043 and 2053 respectively.

It would be “too late,” said Starace, especially since “it would be a pity to miss such a great opportunity for economic value creation.” Today, it is therefore necessary “to accelerate and equip ourselves with a governance system that is adequate for this challenge and capable of transforming intentions into concrete action, while leveraging on the enormous opportunities arising from this commitment.” As Starace pointed out, it is now essential to overcome the current obstacles of governance, in order to unlock the investments needed to compensate for the delay accumulated over the years and accelerate the creation of economic value. With this in mind, the study focuses on seven proposals, which are divided according to whether the sphere of action is European or Italian.

“We need to focus on cities in order to reduce emissions. What happens in cities is a driver for the world’s development”

Francesco Starace, Enel CEO

In terms of Europe, the study proposes to focus attention on the role of internal cooperation and its capacity to enforce the Paris Agreement. In terms of Italy, the aim is to simplify the authorization procedures for renewable energy plants and to promote activities that foster energy efficiency. This is in addition to creating a uniform and standardized interaction mechanism for local authorities, on the one hand, and distribution system operators (DSOs) and charge point operators (CPOs) on the other, in order to encourage the development of charging infrastructure. According to the study, it is equally important to promote the full integration of industrial districts, local level business clusters, innovation ecosystems, and energy communities with the national distribution network.

“Decarbonization is at the core of building the Europe of the future,” Starace recalled during his speech at the Ambrosetti Forum. He also explained that bridging the investment gap “with around 3,600 billion euros needed to reach the 2030 target in Europe, of which around 190 billion euros in Italy alone,” would have “a cumulative impact on GDP of over 8,000 billion euros, of which more than 400 billion euros would be in our country alone.”


Enel editorial staff