Niccolò Bertuzzi
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Peter Bußjäger
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Alice Meier
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Open Access

1 Introduction and Contextualization1

The following chapter introduces the analysis of the single dimensions (or institutional factors) that are theorized to be the possible drivers for climate change policy integration (cpi) at the subnational level.2 In this contribution we discuss two of the targeted dimensions hence focusing on coordination (horizontal and vertical) and leadership both in theory and in practice.

Coordination is often considered a synonym of integration, implying a one-dimensional vision of policy-making as exclusively based on the effective cooperation between the various organs of an administration and on a fruitful, multi-level political collaboration. As discussed in the Introduction to the book, we reject such a simplistic definition of integration, but at the same time still consider the role of coordination as crucial for cpi.

A common element stands behind both vertical and horizontal coordination: the increasing complexity of policy issues and policy-making activity.3 A considerable amount of literature agrees on the need for polycentric governance, definable as “a non-hierarchical set of interactions between public and private actors operating at multiple levels (e.g., supranational, national, and subnational) without a predominant central authority”.4 Climate change does not represent an exception as it requires coordination between actors at different levels of decision-making (vertical coordination) and, within each level, between different departments and stakeholders (horizontal coordination).5 This is true for both mitigation and adaptation, based on the awareness that no single policy sector alone can win the challenges represented by climate change.6 Moreover, the effectiveness of climate governance, beyond the constitutional allocation of competences, may be greatly affected by the procedures and mechanisms that operationalize coordination in practice.

The other dimension analyzed in this chapter, leadership, closely connects with coordination and concerns the extent to which there is a clear impetus for cpi from politicians or top-level managers in administrations. In the field of climate policy, not only complexity but also a constant uncertainty is at stake.7 Thus, leadership should be analyzed from a longitudinal perspective, as policy advances are made of incremental steps;8 further, even while adopting in this research an institutional perspective, the symbolic dimension of leadership should be acknowledged, as not always self-representations of leaders and their claimed initiatives correspond to an effective improvement in obtained results.9 The evolution of leadership has been significant in the study of the political sphere, even beyond the role assumed by party politics.10 This was also due to the “turn” represented by so-called new public management11 in the 1980s and 1990s. The idea behind this paradigm was to “reinvent government”,12 through a more effective and efficient policy-making process, considering citizens as customers and using private sector’s management tools. This determined significative changes for both the administrative and political leadership, implying for example the identification of managerial figures, the creation of dedicated agencies, the attention to cost cutting and to the simultaneous improvement of performance. All these aspects still maintain centrality in policy-making, and they remain crucial also in the analyses of those authors who have criticized the new public management model,13 and even for those who have theorized different governamental models.14

The chapter seeks to identify the pitfalls and the elements of success of these dimensions of cpi – coordination and leadership – as well as their interplay. Two main sections (2 and 3.) are dedicated to discussing each dimension singly, and are further subdivided as follows: the introductory subsections (2.1 and 2.2; 3.1) offer a description of the legal and theoretical framework based on relevant literature and primary sources; successively the empirical analysis of the collected material (interviews and documents gathered during the desk research) will follow (2.3; 3.2). Finally, a conclusive section (4) summarizes the main findings.

2 Coordination towards Integration of Climate Change Policy

Currently, no specific institutions have been introduced into the formal coordination framework of either country for the purpose of discussing climate change issues. Matters of climate protection are primarily dealt with within the general institutions for coordination and cooperation of the two states, as reconstructed in the following subsections.

2.1 The Coordination Framework in Italy

2.1.1 General Remarks

The Italian Constitution does not establish a federation in the traditional sense. Nonetheless the Italian “regional state” recognizes and promotes local autonomies as a fundamental constitutional principle in article 5 and constitutionally entrenches decentralization, by dividing in article 117 legislative powers15 between the central state and the twenty regions, five of these with a special statute, including the region South Tyrol – Trentino (pursuant to article 116(1)). The latter consists of the autonomous provinces of Bolzano and Trento.

The Italian Constitution originally lacked mechanisms of coordination and cooperation between levels of government, as autonomy was conceived only as operating within the limits of clearly defined competences and functions that should be “parallel” to national legislation and administration.16 Moreover, the fact that the Second Chamber of Parliament, the Senate, does not operate as an organ of representation of regional instances, requires further coordination efforts between different institutional levels.

The rulings of the Italian Constitutional Court inspired the evolution of a principle of “loyal cooperation”, which is now provided for by article 120 of the Constitution since the constitutional reform of 2001.17 Nevertheless, there are still no formal institutions of cooperation and coordination between the levels of government entrenched in the Constitution.

However, institutional cooperation among levels of government led to the establishment of a wide range of bodies that bring together national, regional and local government. Such a network is commonly known as the “system of conferences”, consisting of the permanent State-Regions (including autonomous provinces) Conference (Conferenza Stato e Regioni), the State-Municipalities-Local Autonomies Conference (Conferenza Stato-Città ed Autonomie Locali) and, finally, the State-Regions-Autonomous Provinces-Municipalities-Local Autonomies Conference, also known as “Unified Conference” (Conferenza Unificata).18

2.1.2 The State-Regions Conference

The permanent conference for relations between the state, regions and autonomous provinces was established in 1983 and is regulated by article 12 of l. 400/1988 (as complemented by D.lgs. 281/1997). This organ, which represents a permanent body holding regular sessions, exercises information and consultative functions on general political questions, as far as they affect regional competences.19 Such competence includes for example advisory opinions on government acts of regional interest, or appointments to bodies carrying out activities or services relevant to the exercise of concurrent competence between state, regions and autonomous provinces.

The conference is chaired by the prime minister and is composed of the presidents of regions and of the autonomous provinces. Depending on the subject under discussion, the competent national and regional ministers may attend the conference.

2.1.3 The State-Municipalities-Local Autonomies Conference

To foster local autonomies, D.lgs. 281/1997 included a provision for the creation of a State-Municipalities-Local Autonomies Conference. Article 9 of the Decree states that such conference has the duty to coordinate the relations between the state and local autonomies in order to study, inform and exchange opinions concerning problems connected with the general political direction. The conference is the seat for discussion and analysis of problems concerning the local level and functioning of legislative initiative of the government.20

2.1.4 Other Conferences

Law-Decree 281/1997 also provides for the creation of a Unified Conference (State-Regions-Autonomous Provinces-Municipalities-Local Autonomies Conference). According to article 9, the unified Conference adopts deliberations, makes agreements, gives advice and appoints representatives for matters and tasks of joint interest of regions, provinces, municipalities and mountain communities. Other institutions are the State-Cities and Local Autonomies Conference in regional legislation concerning local functions. Finally, the various conferences of services (platforms in which local administrations can participate) represent an administrative tool to collect “accords”, “concerts”, “permissions” or “named approvals” of other administrations involved in complex decision making.

Among the several concertation tools that have been introduced by the legislature, the most relevant21 are:

  1. “the planning conference”, i.e. a participatory body introduced by a number of regional acts.
  2. “planning agreements” between institutional subjects with competences in a specific sector.
  3. “planning contracts” stipulated between the public administration and private entities.
  4. “program agreements” used to frame integrated and coordinated action by different administration organs, both local and national.

2.1.5 Joint Commissions22

A specific mechanism of coordination is furthermore available for the Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano, in light of their particular status of autonomy enshrined in the Constitution (article 116). The Autonomous Provinces may adopt specific implementing norms (norme di attuazione)23 enacting the special forms of autonomy that are at the core of their Autonomy Statute.24 These norms, pursuant to article 107 of the Autonomy Statute, are adopted by two joint commissions (commissioni paritetiche), composed by an equal number of representatives of both the State and the Autonomous Provinces, namely the commission of twelve (Commissione dei dodici) for general implementing norms and the commission of six (Commissione dei sei) for the implementing norms concerning the policy fields that fall within the competences of the Province of Bolzano. According to the Italian Constitutional Court, the joint commissions are a special coordination body between the State and the autonomous regions, including the Autonomous Provinces.25 The latter have made large use of this mechanism of cooperation, by adopting a series of implementing norms also in the field of environmental protection, energy, transport and spatial planning.26

2.2 The Coordination Framework in Austria27

2.2.1 General Remarks

Article 2 of the Federal Constitution (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz b-vg) explicitly stipulates that Austria is a federal state, which consists of nine autonomous constituent units, the so-called Länder.28

The constitutional distribution of competences in legislation and execution between the Bund and the Länder is entrenched in article 10–15 b-vg.29 As for the relationship between different institutional levels, according to the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, the federal order as well as the Länder need to comply with the Berücksichtigungsprinzip (principle of mutual consideration), not explicitly provided for in the Federal Constitution but developed by the Court. This principle resembles the general principle of Bundestreue in Germany,30 which implies that in exercising their authority, the Länder as well as the Bund are bound to respect their respective interests.

Austrian federalism is characterized by a high degree of entanglement between the Länder and the federal order, as well as by a certain subordination of the Länder towards the Bund. Several factors explain this fact: the complexity of the division of competences; the fact that Land governors are responsible for executing federal legislation and finally, the circumstance that the Conference of the Land Governors (“Landeshauptleutekonferenz”), which is explored in the following, fosters horizontal cooperation between all Länder. This cooperation is informal, voluntary, and consensus-based. Various vertical and horizontal cooperative instruments were introduced in the second half of last century (see below).

2.2.2 Article 15a b-vg Agreements

Formalized horizontal and vertical coordination, also on topics that directly or indirectly impact sectoral climate change integration, takes place via legally binding agreements between the Bund and the Länder or amongst the Länder on matters within their respective spheres of competence according to article 15a(1) and (2) b-vg. For example, inter alia, Bund and Länder concluded an article 15a b-vg agreement on measures in the building sector, for the purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2009 (bgbl. ii No. 251/2009), then amended with further climate protection measures in 2017 (bgbl. ii No. 213/2017). In this framework, the Länder notably undertake, within their sphere of influence, to engage their municipalities in the implementation of greening measures (article 14 of the agreement).

2.2.3 Conference of Land Governors

This horizontal mode of cooperation works as a relatively efficient counterbalance to the weight of the federal order of government. Indeed, despite a continuous process of centralization of legislative powers, the Conference of the Land Governors has developed into an important platform for the Länder, especially in the field of financial equalization and in negotiations concerning cost-sharing for the execution of federal law by the Länder and municipalities, to exercise political influence on the federal level. The lack of a formal legal status has no impact on the efficiency and output of the institution. Decisions of the Conference of Land Governors are taken unanimously. In theory, the unanimity requirement should be an obstacle to common action or positions, but in practice, decisions are rarely blocked by vetoes.

2.2.4 Other Conferences

There are numerous other institutions and thematic conferences and instruments of horizontal cooperation, in addition to the Conference of the Land Governors. At the political level, there are conferences of Land ministers according to the respective portfolio (e.g., for finances and social matters). At the technical-administrative level, there are conferences of the directors of the offices of the Land governments as well as experts´ conferences of the Länder (which bring together administrative and technical experts in certain policy matters, such as environment and climate protection). All these institutions are purely informal, but represent a relevant exchange framework and function as concertative tools.

2.2.5 Liaison Office of the Austrian Länder and Other Platforms

The Liaison Office of the Austrian Länder is the most important institution for coordinating matters between all the Länder. The head office is situated in Vienna. Its main tasks are the organization of all the Land conferences discussed above, as well as submitting the viewpoints of the different Länder and the issuing of joint statements by the Länder towards the federal govnernment. Vertical cooperation takes place in various expert groups composed of members of the administrative staffs of federal ministries and Land governments. Several institutions are structured between the federal level, the Länder and the municipalities, which aim to facilitate coordination and cooperation. Vertical ones include for example, the Austrian Conference on Spatial Planning (ӧrok) and the Federal Crisis Management Conference. ӧrok is a joint organization of the Federal Government, the Länder, representatives of the Economic Chamber and Workers’ Chamber, the League of the Austrian Cities and the League of the Austrian Municipalities. The conference provides recommendations and has no regulatory authority. Horizontal institutions include for example the Austrian Institute of Construction Engineering.

2.3 Frameworks, Instruments and Practices of Coordination

In the following subsections the analysis will go beyond the constitutional division of powers and the theoretical framework for coordination, as reconstructed above, and explore mechanisms of horizontal and vertical coordination in practice. The basis for the narrative is represented by the outputs of the empirical analysis conducted during the research.

2.3.1 Horizontal Coordination

The outputs of the empirical analysis evidenced that both Austrian Länder and the Italian autonomous provinces developed an institutional and policy framework to deal with climate change at subnational level. Moreover, mechanisms of horizontal coordination, involving different departments of the administration, peripheral agents31 or political representatives, are in place in all territories. In all case studies at least one umbrella policy32 outlines the subnational commitment to the fight against climate change and introduces a framework for horizontal coordination.

Additionally, policy-makers take separate steps to integrate climate objectives in their sectoral policies, also by liaising with actors from other sectors.33 It should be stressed that the sectoral decision-makers maintain the ownership of their decision-processes. Hence, in the absence of binding sectoral targets or enforceability mechanisms, the integration of climate objectives ultimately occurs on a voluntary basis.

Despite organizational differences, all subnational governments clearly identify a leading coordinating institution. This entity is specifically entrusted with the task to facilitate interdepartmental exchange on climate questions. In Italy, the coordinating competences are attributed to provincial environmental agencies, governed by public law and established by the provincial administration.34 We refer to the Agenzia per l’Ambiente e la Tutela del Clima in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (appa Bolzano), and the Agenzia per la Protezione dell’Ambiente in the Autonomous Province of Trento (appa Trento). Diversely, in Austria the tasks are assigned to units within the organizational matrix of the administration. The latter are the Sustainability and Climate Protection Coordination unit35 in Tyrol and the Energy and Climate Protection Division36 in Vorarlberg. Moreover, in both Länder climate coordinators, administrative officers belonging to the aforementioned bodies and who hold specific coordinating responsibilities, were identified as key actors within the administration to support sectoral mainstreaming.37 Despite the existence of coordinating units being positively evaluated, a few interviewees highlighted a twofold criticality of coordination in practice: i) the actual coordination happens in an intense bilateral exchange between the respective coordination units and the single departments, whereas direct exchange between the various departments is rather incidental and situational;38 ii) the coordination units would be able to maintain an overview of the implementation but not however be able to concretely affect the implementation of the measures.39

Generally, horizontal coordination within the administration at subnational level works on an informal basis, either in relation to established dependencies between departments, or otherwise is mostly limited to the strategic level,40 meaning that the recurring instrument for horizontal mainstreaming is the cooperative formulation of strategic papers or of implementation reports.41 However, this cross-sectoral approach to policy-making, despite being beneficial for policy coherency,42 reportedly leads to a rather vague formulation of policies and, as a result, to a difficult coordination and monitoring of the implementation.43

The empirical analysis further revealed the operativity of an interplay of both institutionalized and informal interdepartmental mechanisms. For example, the Autonomous Province of Trento institutionalizes climate related coordination by introducing specific permanent bodies, which function as a cooperative framework between different departments. The initial observatory body on climate issues (Osservatorio Trentino sul Clima) was subsequently replaced by a permanent coordination and action table on climate change (Tavolo Provinciale di Coordinamento e di Azione sui Cambiamenti Climatici), participated by a number of departments and chaired by the appa Trento.44 In the Province of Bolzano, l.p. 17/2017 introduces a permanent Environmental Committee. This committee is presided by the appa Bolzano and composed of other sectoral experts appointed by the government upon designation of the departments and holds consultative functions on the environmental impact of public projects and programs of the Province.

In Tyrol, the new Climate and Sustainability Strategy 2021 introduces a two-tier complementary governance, providing for coordination between responsible departments and between the administration and political representatives. The core working group consists of the Climate Protection Coordination unit (see above), the Energy Coordination unit45 and the heads of the relevant departments, whereas the steering committee is composed of political representatives (decision-makers) and the aforementioned core working group. This governance model, which was originally introduced for the policy-development phase, is intended to be maintained also in the implementation.46 A similar mechanism was reported to operate in Vorarlberg within the framework of the energy autonomy program.47

Moreover, intra-departmental coordination mechanisms are introduced to handle sectoral complexities, also with the mandate to enhance sectoral climate change mainstreaming. Examples include the Mobility Management Coordination Unit in Vorarlberg,48 the Energy Coordination Unit in Tyrol49 and the Green Mobility Initiative in the Autonomous Province of Bolzano.50

Despite the evidence of a certain shared institutional concern for climate change across sectors and in all territories, some respondents highlighted that the administration would lack the necessary structure to concretely deal with an overlapping and cross-cutting issue such as climate change.51 Indeed, whilst each department, administrative structure and member of the subnational government (assessore/Landesrat) is normally concerned with certain clearly institutionalized tasks, inversely, climate change requires a coordinated approach and continuous exchange between policy-makers, going beyond institutionalized practices. This aforementioned structural unpreparedness seems to be linked to the process-innovation that climate change integration would in practice entail.52

Further reported criticalities, linked to the structural deficit at issue, are understaffing in the administration and the underpinning budgetary question of the financing of additional resources.53 In the two Länder the highlighted structural aspects lead to the systematic outsourcing of certain responsibilities in connection to climate change, especially with regard to education, communication, but also coordination, to peripheral entities linked in various ways to the administration.54 As for the Autonomous Province of Trento, an improvement in horizontal coordination – also due to expense reduction – has been identified55 leading to a clearer definition of roles and responsibilities, with the relevant tasks being concentrated with appa Trento. Specifically, measures were taken to promote joint approaches and to avoid dispersed efforts, experienced in the past, related to the lack of coordination in the parallel actions by the responsible bodies and of a clear political strategy at provincial level.56

Finally, cross-border cooperation should not be disregarded, when referring to horizontal coordination. During the interviews the following framework for inter-governmental and cross-border cooperation were mentioned: a) the eusalp’s macroregional European strategy for the Alpine region;57 b) the Alpine Convention;58 and d) the Euregio.59 More specifically, in the case of the Euregio, the joint government program shows climate protection in mobility and energy among its key objectives. Some important initiatives are being developed, such as the Brenner Base Tunnel which, beyond the already mentioned EU support, is also based on cross-border cooperation between the concerned states and subnational governments. The Brenner motorway is a key element for tourism, mobility and the economy, with about two million trucks going back and forth along the motorway every year, resulting in heavy pollution of valleys. Furthermore, even more specific projects are supported by cross-border coordination: one example is Solar Tyrol, an inter-regional project on the mapping of solar potential in Tyrol and Bolzano to assess further actions for the use of renewable energy.60

2.3.2 Vertical Coordination

The acknowledgment of the central role played by transnational governance and in particular by European directives in pushing climate policies at the subnational level is a shared result. No particular differences emerged among the different areas or policy sectors under investigation.

As specified in numerous interviews, the – more or less explicit – main goal of subnational governance is to contribute to reaching the objectives identified by the Paris Agreement61 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.62 It is not by chance that in all the four cases examined, specific documents were produced to frame subnational (climate) policies and cpi within the sustainable development agenda. The Paris Agreement is perceived as a turning point;63 however, also previous documents produced by transnational institutions were mentioned, such as the Fourth Report on “Climate Change 2007” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc), which outlined a clear connection between climate change and human activity.

While the international level represents the frame of reference of intergovernmental and scientific cooperation, Europe acts as a reference for cpi. Specifically, the EU has been recognized as the entity able to effectively advance the fight against climate change by introducing binding targets both at the state and subnational level. Recurring EU reference emerged during various interviews, and especially in the collected documents. Considering Austria, 88% (same percentage in Tyrol and Vorarlberg) of the policy documents analyzed in both Länder, 71% of the sectoral legislation and 50% of the 15a agreements specificially refer to EU law.64 Considering Italy, the total of documents mentioning European directives decreases to 71%. The percentage is almost the same in Trento and Bolzano considering the total amount of documents. A partial difference can be detected between policy documents (74% of the total amount of policy documents in Trento and Bolzano includes a EU reference) and legislative documents (67%).65 Thus, reference to European directives and legislation is considerable in the four subnational areas, and in particular increases in the most recent documents examined. Furthermore, the reference to Europe is spread at cross-sectoral level, but particularly relevant in the case of energy and transport. In the case of energy, this is in line with the past (see, for example, the input given by “Energy efficiency first”66 – a key objective in the EU vision – to the reduction of energy consumption in different policy areas). For the transport sector, the situation is quite “new”: according to various interviewees, this was not a key sector for cpi in the past decades, but has been particularly fostered in recent times also thanks to the role of vertical coordination.

Furthermore, it is also worth mentioning that some local governments, such as the Autonomous Province of Bolzano, have dedicated offices in charge of dealing with EU directives and policies, thus contributing to vertical coordination, especially when it comes to the attraction of EU funding for initiatives that deal with sustainability and climate change.67

At the same time, local peculiarities and the possibility to legislate in an autonomous fashion are considered equally important, as well as the possibility to directly transpose EU legislation is seen as an added value of the subnational areas under investigation. This was positively highlighted in several interviews, such as by an interviewee who states: “in Italy, the adoption of European directives related to energy has not taken place in suitable timeframes. however, fortunately there is the possibility to legislate on a provincial level, skipping the state level and considering the European level directly”.68 For example, the initial draft of the Provincial Energy and Environmental Plan of the Autonomous Province of Trento (2021) was developed in 2018 and had already set an objective of reducing ghg emissions by 55% by 2030, which was only later introduced by the EU in 2021. In the case of both Länder Tyrol and Vorarlberg, the Land has a clear-cut space of maneuver in the spatial planning sector and in specific fields of the energy sector, such as notably the building sector and specifically housing subsidies, which fall within the exclusive sphere of influence of the Länder.69 In this case, as well as in others, such autonomy gave the possibility to go even beyond the objectives identified at the EU level.

Europe is also crucial because of specific funding related to climate change. This will be discussed in the Chapter 9; however, we want to remark that one case in particular mentioned during the interviews is the NextGenerationEu Plan, which notably forsesees “green” initiatives, also following the call for a EU Green Deal launched by the President of the European Commission Von der Leyen. Respondents highlighted both the pros and the possible cons of this Plan and the vertical coordination it implies.

The national level is generally considered less important than the transnational and the European ones when it comes to cpi. Especially in the two Italian cases, the state assumes centrality especially in negative terms, with few positive mentions. However, the respondents did not generally consider the state to be a significant obstacle, apart from a number of situations linked to excesses of bureaucracy and formality, and because it is considered to produce too much legislation.70

A difference between Austria and Italy should be noted here, as it was mentioned in several interviews. Austria has a federal Climate-Protection Law (Klimaschutzgesetz – ksg),71 which sets sectoral targets outside the European Emission Trading System and was described to present an ambivalent enforceability mechanism, which would not effectively bind to the set targets.72 While the ksg has concretized targets at a supra-regional level, the consequence mechanism, in terms of legal consequences deriving for the non-fulfillment, is not specified in the law. The EU sources are legally binding for the Bund; however, their fulfilment requires coordination within the state. Italy lags even further behind. Two relevant documents exist in relation to the national scale in terms of mitigation: the Piano Nazionale Integrato Energia e Clima (pniec), which outlines the route towards decarbonization between 2021 and 2030, and the Strategia Italiana di Lungo Termine sulla Riduzione delle Emissioni dei Gas a Effetto Serra (published in 2021).73 On the other hand, Italy is still waiting to implement the Piano Nazionale di Adattamento ai Cambiamenti Clima. For this reason, many regions and the autonomous provinces have been taking steps independently, as highlighted by respondents of both autonomous provinces investigated.

Beyond the elements previously discussed, the political autonomy of the subnational areas under investigation has been mentioned in several interviews, and is generally considered a positive element by the whole set of respondents. This was highlighted for example in the transport sector, which is depicted primarily as a federal subject-matter in the Austrian cases, and which lacks a national plan in Italy. In this sector, there are no binding legislative sources at the Land level in Austria so far, which according to some respondents, could otherwise facilitate the sectoral integration of climate change. In the Italian case studies, the limited number of state regulations/policies in the transport sector may imply that subnational governments have more leeway to legislate in the transport, according to the needs of the territories. Thus, some respondents admitted that the national state has little responsibility when things do not work in an efficient manner, and that it is more correct to consider the subnational level when examining both positive and negative elements of management.

Some mechanisms of coordination described in 2.1 and 2.2 were also mentioned during the interviews as fundamental tools to help bridging local initiatives and national frameworks. Single examples include the Conference of Land Transport Representatives (Landesverkehrsreferentenkonferenz) and the collective development of sectoral measures, e.g. under the Climate Law (art. 3) in Austria, were identified as further mechanisms by which the Federal Government and the Länder adopt joint measures and the Bund can be confronted with specific sectoral needs. The State-Regions Conference was described as a fundamental mechanism in Italy, also in relation to climate issues, whose equivalent in Austria is the Conference of Land Climate Representatives (Landesklimaschutzreferentenkonferenz). In the Italian case, another important body recalled in the interviews and documents is the National System of Environmental Protection (Sistema Nazionale della Protezione dell’Ambiente), coordinated by ispra (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale), which brings together all of the regional and provincial environmental agencies in Italy.74

3 Leadership towards Policy Integration of Climate Change

3.1 Legal and Theoretical Framework

Both Italy and Austria are parliamentary democracies. In relation to the separation of powers, leadership is in practice business of the governments. In the modern adminsitrative state, while Parliaments set the legal framework for actions by the administration, governments form the dynamic part. They must be ambitious if they are to implement governmental programs into the legal order. Finally, governments form the supreme bodies of the administration, which are also accountable to Parliaments. It is therefore the respective governments that must enforce their goals and programs, including measures against climate change. The administrations themselves are not intended to develop leadership themselves, as they are subordinate to governments in constitutional terms.

In the classical framework of the separation of powers, the judiciary plays a rather conservative role. During recent years an essential change in the attitude of the judiciaries in many countries took place: they played a more dynamic role in applying international treaties, fundamental rights and national laws on aspects of environmental protection, specifically when it comes to climate change. This is reflected, for example, in the fact that the administrative courts are increasingly granting environmental organizations and citizens’ initiatives a legal status in approval procedures of environmentally harmful facilities and the constitutional courts are increasingly recognizing fundamental environmental rights also in relation to climate change.75 As far as can be seen, the constitutional and administrative courts in both Italy and Austria are still reticent in this respect. However, it can be assumed that they will follow the European trend.

Finally, both in Italy and in Austria, civil society exercises pressure on political decision-makers. Direct democracy can be exercised within certain limits. In both countries there exists the instrument of popular initiative, with which certain concerns can be brought to the attention of Parliament.76 Furthermore, even if we do not investigate this aspect in depth, political pressure from civic and social movements can have an influence on decision-making;77 however, we do not assume it as an indicator of political leadershpip, but as the political response to leadership coming from civil society. Apart from this, the possibilities for direct democracy are rather limited and primarily fulfill a downstream function, namely to confirm or correct certain decisions that were taken.

The extent to which practice differs from or reflects theory will be clarified in the following.

3.2 Leadership in Representations and in Practice

The importance assumed by climate issues for the current subnational legislatures was emphasized in many interviews, often accompanied by the hope that leadership (political and administrative) may continue in this direction. Among the reasons that justify the interest of leaders, two are crucial: the influence of transnational climate governance and the increase in natural disasters. The first of these factors was discussed at length in the previous section and in Chapter 1. As regards natural disasters, specific reference was made to the 2018 Adrian Storm (especially in the two Italian cases) and to some local phenomena (eg the Val di Stava Disaster, which happened in 1985 in Trentino). The narrative is twofold. On the one hand, the political/administrative figures recognize the role played by natural disasters in increasing awareness; on the other hand, they claim the validity of measures adopted by the current legislatures in order to mitigate the effects, underlining the existence of already effective adaptation protocols. A third key factor highlighted in the interviews at cross-(sub)national level and that would affect the actions taken by policy-makers, is the pressure exercised by civil society (and in particular youth climate movements). This aspect was emphasized by Austrian interviewees, both institututional and belonging to civil society, with reference to Fridays For Future (fff).78

In addition to these general elements, some peculiarities should be highlighted. For example, as recalled by an interviewee, the situation of the Autonomous Province of Bolzano is quite anomalous, since the same party – Südtiroler Volkspartei (svp) – has been governing for the last few decades. However, this party formed an unprecedented coalition with the League (Lega) – a far-right populist party in Italy – following the 2018 election results.79 According to another interviewee, this led to a weakening of the political leadership on climate issues as the competent department was entrusted to the League, but the real power is perceived to be in the hands of the German-speaking community and their governmental representatives.80 Similarly, in the neighboring Province of Trento, some respondents from civil society highlighted a sort of provincialism among political figures/parties and the tendency to be overly influenced by bordering regions, especially Veneto. This is seen as a long-term trend but was reinforced by the results of the last provincial elections, which saw the victory of the League. However, in both cases (Bolzano and Trento), a number of positive administrative factors would mitigate the supposed criticalities of political leadership. In Bolzano, appa Bolzano recently changed its name (to include “climate protection”): according to an interviewee in the administration, this is extremely significant in entrusting a greater role to the agency and its administrative figures.81 In Trento, according to all the respondents (even those from civil society), the identification of appa as the general responsible for climate issues improved the effectiveness of horizontal cooperation between departments also thanks to the leadership assumed in terms of coordination and organization by some specific administrative figures at the provincial level. Some respondents go even further, such as an interviewee, who is hoping for the formalization of a political authority to tackle climate change, arguing that a standard is necessary to measure every policy in terms of its climate impact, thus suggesting to establish a councillorship for climate change or ecological transition, as has been done in Italy (and not only) at national ministry level.82

What has been said for the Italian cases is to some extent relevant also for Austria. In Tyrol, the political leadership at the Länder level has been unanimously identified as the propulsive force of climate-change integration in sectoral policies, following a progressive evolution in the acknowledgment of the urgency of the climate-change problem.83 This evolution at political level was deemed to have recently culminated in the amendment of the Land Constitution with the anchoring of climate protection and sustainability as goals of the Land.84 This is even more true for Vorarlberg, which was the first Austrian Land to declare the state of climate emergency, a resolution approved by the Land Parliament in 2019.85 The state of emergency abstractly entails a preventive check and review on new laws, regulations, and directives for grants in terms of climate change adaptation and mitigation.86 Vorarlberg’s interviewees reported that climate change has developed into a focal point also for the administrative leadership, which would be testified by the ongoing project “Mission ZeroV – first climate-neutral Land administration” by which the administration is to act as a role-model in the fight against global warming87 and by the fact that no department reacts to climate change with disinterest.

According to many political and above all administrative figures,88 the change in political leadership at government level did not bring any particular steps forward or backward across the years.89 However, the fact that some civil society respondents are less enthusiastic makes it correct to carefully evaluate a unilateral positive vision of political leadership in the areas investigated, highlighting as the role of leadership can be sometimes more symbolic than substantive. This is why we also analyzed the electoral and government programs. In longitudinal terms, the issue of climate change has assumed increasing importance in the electoral programs of the main parties in all four territories considered. Comparing the programs of the last elections (2018 for the Italian autonomous provinces, for the Austrian Länder 2018 in Tyrol and 2019 in Vorarlberg) with those of the previous ballots, the environmental, climate and sustainability issues are increasingly present.

In Bolzano, for example, the Greens proposed specific measures such as a “Climate Law” that would make the KlimaPlan90 binding, and the establishment of a provincial sustainability manager. Also noteworthy is the reference in the program to “system change, not climate change”, a popular slogan among youth climate movements, such as fff. In the case of the other main parties, with the partial exception of the Five Stars Movement (Movimento Cinque Stelle, historically focused on environmental issues, especially at the local level), the references to climate issue were more nuanced. The electoral results envisioned a partial reshuffling compared to previous legislatures, with the formation of a governing coalition formed by the League and the svp. The government program strongly insisted on reinforcing existing policies, and emphasized the importance of environmentally-friendly consumption/production mechanisms: unlike the Greens’ program or the frames advanced by climate movements, the register is that of the simultaneous pursuing of economic and ecological results.

The 2018 election results were unprecedented also in Trento, with the victory of the League after 20 years of center-left governments. In the government’s priorities, emphasis is placed on territorial infrastructures, such as the renewal of the A22 concession and the construction of the Valdastico route, a strategic infrastructure connecting areas in Veneto and Trentino with a high industrial presence, and whose realization has been debated for several decades, also envisaging a strong opposition from some sectors of civil society. Also in Trento, the electoral programs gave great importance to climate and the environment, but without identifying any radical solutions: this is true both for right-wing (and center-right) and for center-left parties, while more attention was paid by left-wing parties such as the Liberi e Uguali/L’Altro Trentino. For example, the Democratic Party’s program tackled the topic in an embraceable but rather generic way, focusing on the concept of sustainable development and hoping for the continuation of the (sectoral) policies launched in previous legislatures. It is difficult to assess how much this approach influenced the election results, but considering the importance assumed by climate issues for the Italian electorate,91 it is plausible that a greater centrality of such an issue could have led to different results.

In both Austrian Länder the last elections were characterized, in line with previous trends, by the attribution of the highest number of seats to the Österreichische Volkspartei (övp) and by the resulting creation of coalition governments between the övp and the Green Party (Grünen).

In Tyrol, the program of the current Government Platter iii (2018–2023) introduces broad objectives in connection with climate and environmental protection, which represent a specific field of action. Moreover, climate change is incidentally thematized in other sectors such as tourism, disaster prevention, energy and mobility policy. Emphasis is put on the continuation of initiatives by the past legislature in relation to “Tirol 2050”92 and the reduction of the impact of transit traffic (until the completion of the Brenner Base Tunnel in 2027). The Land has also recently commited to forming a climate neutral administration, similar to that of Vorarlberg, in the new Sustainability and Climate Strategy (2021). The Tyrolean Government further recently (2021) announced a number of climate measures such as the introduction of a qualitative preventive climate check on new laws, ordinances and directives and of a photovoltaic mandate for new public buildings as of January 2022.93

It should be noted that Vorarlberg’s leadership has shown a long-lasting concern for the preservation of the climate and environment of the Land. This is confirmed by the early constitutional entrenchment of climate protection (2008) and the early commitment to energy autonomy (2009). As a consequence, climate change acquires centrality in most electoral programs as a standalone topic but also in sectoral policies.

The Grünen represented the second party in the last elections in 2019. The electoral program proposed the adoption of a climate law to set climate measures and binding targets. In the current program of the Government Wallner iii (2019–2024), besides the continuation of the energy autonomy activities, some of the relevant planned measures are: the implementation of the decision by the Land Parliament to declare the climate emergency (see above); the preparation of a collective amendment law (Sammelnovelle) to adapt existing legal provisions to climate protection goals; the increase in the climate budget and the continuation of the climate dialogue with businesses.

Beyond the narratives proposed by the interviewees and the declared objectives presented in the electoral programs, we also consider a few data referred to the current trend of ghg emissions, assuming this as a measure to evaluate the substantive and not only symbolic dimension of leadership because it foreshadows the effects of policy measures on the most important indicator to assess mitigation.94 In general terms, it should be emphasized that ghg emissions increased from 1990 in the subnational cases considered.95 Thus, actions implemented are less incisive than what the representations collected in the interviews (especially those of administrative and political figures) and the documents examined would suggest. Such discrepancy does not mean that the process carried out so far is without merit, but, rather, that the path towards the effective achievement of climate objectives, set by international governance and informed by indications coming from scientific bodies such as the ipcc, is still long and requires more effective actions with a focus on the concrete operationalization of the objectives in practice.

More specifically, Tyrol produced the equivalent of 8.5% of the Austrian overall ghg emissions in 2019. ghg emissions rose by 15% between 1990 and 2019, whereby a slight improvement, due to a reduction of 0.6%, was recorded from 2018 to 2019.96 Looking at the overall co2 emissions per capita, in 2019 Tyrol produced 6.3 tonnes of emissions per capita, therefore lower than the national average of 9.0 tonnes.97

Vorarlberg is the second smallest Land in Austria. The Land produced the equivalent of only 2.6% of the national overall emissions. The overall co2 emissions produced in 2019 are 3.3% higher than the level of 1990. However, it should be noted that the 2017 ghg emissions outside the ets were reduced by 3.5% compared to 2010. The per capita emissions produced by Vorarlberg in 2019 amounted to 5.3 tonnes and hence were clearly lower than the national average of 9.0 tonnes. In Vorarlberg we observe a tendency to decrease of per capita overall emissions from 6.2 tonnes in 1990 to 5.3 in 2019.98

For the two Italian provinces examined in our research, we consider the data of the national emission inventories, released by ispra (Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale).99 Considering tonnes of co2 equivalent emissions,100 a general rise was registered from 1990 to 2019: 6,414,388 v. 7,674,959.101 In this time-frame, the trend of the province of Bolzano was slightly better than Trento’s: 3,195,731 v. 3,507,492 for Bolzano, 3,218,657 v. 4,167,468 for Trento. Interestingly, a peak was reached in Trento in 2005 (4,461,204) with a partial later decrease, while the same did not happen in Bolzano, which experienced a more linear growth during the last thirty years without particular up and down dynamics (with a slow linear decrease from 2010 to 2017 and again a slow linear increase after that). Finally, according to the data from the national inventory of ispra, the impact of co2 equivalent emissions of the two Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano would be around 1.8% of the national total (1.0% Trento; 0.8% Bolzano).

4 Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, the two analysed dimensions of coordination and leadership play a decisive role in climate policies in the selected case studies. Additionally, these vertical and horizontal coordination proved to be intertwined and to represent two sides of the same coin. The involvement of different actors in overlapping competency fields requires well working coordination mechanisms between different levels of government and between different stakeholders at the same level of government. Coordination between different levels of government needs to coexist with the coordination between departments that are responsible for the implementation of any concerted decision-making. Conversely, a strong coordination between stakeholders at the same level of government will have positive consequences well grounded representation of subnational instances in the framework of vertical coordination mechanisms. Vertical and horizontal coordination is also not only inherent in multi-level governance systems, such as Austria and Italy, characterized by a complex division of powers, but was also confirmed to represent a core element for cpi. At the same time, the commitment to climate change goals of political leaders and managers in the public administration directly impacts cpi and shapes mitigation and adaptation actions in practice, even if there is a large room for improvement in the future.

As for the horizontal dimension of coordination, there is substantial evidence of co-formulation of climate measures by different sectoral actors. Moreover, beyond the strategic level, specific intra- and inter-departmental mechanisms are activated to facilitate mainstreaming in practice. However, despite the existence of an institutional framework to deal with climate change and despite the operativity of certain dedicated mechanisms in all analysed case studies, coordination is mostly informal, case-specific, and limited to the strategic level. Its effectivity was questioned by both institutional respondents and interviewees from civil society. Indeed, the interviewees expressed their concern with the implementation of shared objectives and identified room for the improvement of interdepartmental coordination.102 The respondents specifically stressed the need for the coordination culture to be developed, in terms of the systematization and institutionalization of cooperation. Possible options to overcome the reported obstacles to effective coordination include:

  1. institutionalizing direct exchange between departments;103
  2. identifying climate referents within the single departments, so as to enhance the quality of exchange between the latter and climate coordinators;104
  3. enabling the coordinating units to set vertically binding measures, so as to influence sectoral mainstreaming;105
  4. identifying and improving coordination in relation to relevant sectoral overlaps;106
  5. establishing figures at the local level who are similar to ministers of ecological transition.107

On the other hand, vertical coordination has emerged as one of the main drivers (if not the main one) of cpi. In particular, the turning point brought about by the Paris Agreements was highlighted, within a more general framework based on the concept of sustainable development, and the decisive role played by the European Union was discussed in almost all the interviews both for the identification of the vision and for the definition of specific directives and legislation. Such milestones and the influence of international governance are also aboundantly referred to in the analysed documents. The national level is considered less relevant, and the state/Bund is mentioned especially as an implementer of standards set by the European Union.

As anticipated, leadership at different levels of government and also across borders, is deemed to influence coordination, translating into tasks and measures and stimulating synergies between authorities and, within the authorities, between different policy sectors. The propulsive force in the advancement of climate change discourse at subnational level was generally identified in political leadership, while the commitment of sectoral administrative leadership is linked to the effectiveness of the actions. This is especially true, considering that the implementation of climate measures mostly occurs on a voluntary basis, in the absence of binding targets and enforceability mechanisms at subnational level. In fact, results, measured in emission reductions in the last thrirty years, proved to be less effective than expected, and not always discourse were coherently put in practice. At the same time, the identification of agencies responsible for climate issues and specifically for cpi testifies to the importance assumed by environmental/climate issues for sub-national governance, at least in the Alpine region. The interviews conducted in the case studies evidenced a generalized trend towards considering climate change a topic of interest at political level, irrespective of the political orientation or the targeted constituency. However, most representatives of civil society, along with some institutional respondents, stressed that the commitment in theory still needs to find a proper correspondence in practice, a finding that is partially confirmed also looking at the effective and concrete ghg emissions trends.108 Indeed, despite the trend to set out broad measures in all territories, policy-making still lacks the identification of short-term objectives and clear implementation timelines.

To conclude, even though a positive change towards climate awareness was identified in all territories, both with regard to leadership and the connected coordination mechanisms, there is recognizable room for improvement in respect of the implementation of the planned measures: to name only a few aspects – that will be better discussed in the conclusions of the volume – we refer to the identification of a common path to solidify the implementation of co-formulated measures, the possibility to dispose of higher economic resources to better organize vertical coordination (by both competing to European tenders and at the same time improving the connection with local municipalities), a mentality more prone to horizontal collaboration beyond the sectorial interests and the specific priorities of single departments.


In the joint elaboration of this chapter, sections 2.1, 2.2 and 3.1 have been written by Peter Bußjäger, sections 2.3.1 by Alice Meier, section 2.3.2 by Niccolò Bertuzzi, section 3.2 jointly by Alice Meier and Niccolò Bertuzzi, and sections 1 and 4 by all three authors.


For an overivew of the theorized dimension of cpi see the Introduction in this volume.


W. Lafferty, and E. Hovden, “Environmental Policy Integration: Towards an Analytical Framework”, Environmental politics, 12 (2003) 1–22; R. Keohane and D. Victor, “The Regime Complex for Climate Change”, Perspectives on politics, 9 (2011) 7–23.


T. Morrison et al., “Mitigation and Adaptation in Polycentric Systems: Sources of Power in the Pursuit of Collective Goals”, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 8 (2017) 1–16.


R. Keohane and D. Victor, “The Regime Complex”, supra.


J. Candel and R. Biesbroek, “Toward a Processual Understanding of Policy Integration”, Policy Sciences, 49 (2016) 211–231.


J. Gupta et al., “The Adaptive Capacity Wheel: A Method to Assess the Inherent Characteristics of Institutions to Enable the Adaptive Capacity of Society”, Environmental Science & Policy, 13(6) (2010) 459–471.


M. Mintrom and J. Luetjens, “Policy Entrepreneurs and Problem Framing: The Case of Climate Change”, Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space, 35 (2017) 1362–1377.


W.W. Powell and P.J. DiMaggio (eds.), The New Institutionalism in Organizational Analysis (University of Chicago Press 1991); J. March and J. Olsen, “The New Institutionalism: Organizational Factors in Political Life”, American Political Science Review, 78 (1983) 734–749; R. Bates, “Contra Contractarianism: Some Reflections on the New Institutionalism”, Politics & Society, 16 (1988) 387–401.


F. Musella, Political Leaders Beyond Party Politics (Palgrave 2018).


C. Hood, “A Public Management for all Seasons?”, Public Administration, 69 (1991) 3–19.


T. Osborne and D. Gaebler, Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector (Beacon Press 1992).


T. Christensen and P. Lægreid, “Regulatory Agencies—The Challenges of Balancing Agency Autonomy and Political Control”, Governance, 20 (2007) 499–520; J J. Bryson, B.C. Crosby and L. Bloomberg, “Public Value Governance: Moving Beyond Traditional Public Administration and the New Public Management”, Public Administration Review, 74 (2014) 445–456.


B. Wirtz and S. Birkmeyer, “Open Government: Origin, Development, and Conceptual Perspectives”, International Journal of Public Administration, 38(5) (2015) 381–396.


For a detailed reconstruction of the constitutional allocation of competences in Italy, also in respect of the project relevant sectors, see Chapter 3 in this volume.


E. Ceccherini, “Intergovernmental Relationships in Italy a Feeble but Useful Model” in E. Arban, G. Martinico and F. Palermo (eds.), Federalism and Constitutional Law: The Italian Contribution to Comparative Regionalism (Routledge 2021) 65–81, at 66.


Ibid., at 68; J. Woelk, “Loyal Cooperation Systemic Principle of Italy’s Regionalism?” in E. Arban et al. (eds.), Federalism and Constitutional Law, supra, at 170.


E. Ceccherini, “Intergovernmental Relationships in Italy”, supra, at 69.


F. Palermo and J. Woelk“, Die Ständige Konferenz von Staat, Regionen und autonomen Provinzen in Italien”, in A. Rosner and P. Bußjäger (eds.), Im Dienste Der Länder – Im Interesse des Gesamtstaates: Festschrift 60 Jahre Verbindungsstelle Der Bundesländer (Braumüller 2011) 731–755, at 731.


E. Ceccherini, “Intergovernmental Relationships in Italy”, supra, at 70.


For a detailed description of the mentioned mechanisms see Ibid., at 74–75.


This subsection was written by Federica Cittadino.


These are adopted in the form of legislative decrees (D.lgs.) but have a special constitutional status, in that they cannot be repealed by ordinary laws. See F. Palermo, “Ruolo e natura delle commissioni paritetiche e delle norme di attuazione”, in J. Marko, S. Ortino and F. Palermo (eds.), L’ordinamento speciale della Provincia Autonoma di Bolzano (Cedam 2001) 832–836; G. Postal, “Le norme di attuazione statutaria”, in M. Marcantoni, G. Postal and R. Toniatti (eds.), Quarant’anni di autonomia. Le istituzioni e la funzione legislativa (Franco Angeli 2011) 102–163; P. Giangaspero, “I decreti di attuazione degli Statuti speciali”, in R. Bin and L. Coen (eds.), I nodi tecnici della revisione degli Statuti speciali (I.S.G.Re 2008) 107–123; R. Chieppa, “Le esperienze delle commissioni paritetiche e il valore delle norme di attuazione degli statuti speciali regionali”, Le Regioni, 6 (2008) 1051–1076.


dpr 670/1972.


Corte Costituzionale, dec. No. 109/1995.


See D.lgs. 9/2018, D.lgs. 146/2016 and 381/1974 on spatial and urban planning; D.lgs. 46/2016, D.lgs. 429/1995 and D.lgs. 527/1987 on transport and traffic regulation; D.lgs. 118/2003 and D.lgs. 463/1999 on hydroelectric concessions; D.lgs. 235/1977 on energy matters.


For a detailed reconstruction of the coordination framework see P. Bußjäger, “Austria’s Cooperative Federalism”, in G. Bischof and F. Karlhofer (eds.), Austrian Federalism in Comparative Perspective (The University of New Orleans Press 2015) 11–33.


Namely Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Vienna (article 2(2) b-vg).


For a detailed reconstruction of the constitutional allocation of competences in Austria, also in respect of the project relevant sectors, see Chapters 2 and 3 in this volume.


See for example E. Arban, “Exploring the Principle of (Federal) Solidarity”, Review of Constitutional Studies/Revue d’études constitutionnelles, 22(2) (2017) 241–260, at 242.


Herein peripheral agents are entities entrusted with tasks that are relevant for the implementation of climate actions, linked in different ways to the administration either directly, by means of public participation and or through controlling interests, or indirectly, by means of funding and financing.


For example, the provincial Strategy for Sustainable Development in Trento (Strategia provinciale di Sviluppo Sostenibile – SproSS – Agenda 2030); the update to the Climate Strategy in Bolzano (PianoClima Energia – Alto Adige 2050, as updated by Piano clima Alto Adige 2040); the newly published Climate and Sustainability Strategy in Tyrol (Nachhaltigkeits-und Klimastrategie 2021) and the Climate Change Adaptation Strategy in Vorarlberg (Strategie zur Anpassung an den Klimawandel 2021). For a detailed reconstruction of the climate policy in the selected case studies see Chapter 3 in this volume, section 3.


See Chapter 3 in this volume and Part 2 of the book. Moreover, during the interviews the respondents highlighted strong cross-sectoral synergies, e.g. between spatial planning and the energy and water sector (IntT_05) or spatial planning and the transport sector (IntBZ_10; IntV_05).


Organizational structures of the Provinces with organizational, administrative and accounting autonomy.


Nachhaltigkeits-und Klimakordination, within the Department for Land Development (Abteilung Landesentwicklung).


Fachbereich Energie und Klimaschutz situated within the General Economic Affairs Department (Abteilung Allgemeine Wirtschaftsangelegenheiten VIa).


IntV_02; IntT_03.


IntT_03; IntV_05.


IntT_04; IntV_06.


IntT_03; IntV_02; IntBZ_01; IntTN_04.


For instance, inter alia, the provincial Energetic and Environmental Plan in Trentino (Piano Energetico Ambientale Provinciale – peap 2021); the Energy Autonomy Strategy + 2021 (Energieautonomie +) in Vorarlberg and the spatial planning concept “Zukunftsraum Tirol” 2011. An example of horizontal coordination in the monitoring and evaluation phase is represented by the periodic progress reports on climate measures (Tiroler Klimafortschrittsbericht) by the Department for Land Development in Tyrol.








The Energiekoordination Tirol, Amt der Tiroler Landesregierung is an ad hoc organizational unit introduced with the purpose of centralizing energy-related questions and topics. This is justified by the fact that the energy sector is quite cross-cutting, but also by the need to implement climate change integration in the sector.






Koordinationsstelle Mobilitätsmanagement, Amt der Vorarlberger Landesregierung.


Energiekoordination Tirol, Amt der Tiroler Landesregierung.

50 All hyperlinks in this chapter were accessed on 17 March 2022.


IntBZ_02; IntV_06; IntT_01.


IntT_04; IntBZ_02.


IntT_02; IntV_05.


IntT_04; IntV_01. The Energy Institutes, non-administrative organizations, in both Tyrol and Vorarlberg count as major implementation agents for climate policies. This is reasonably due to the fact that in both Länder, the competencies for climate matters lie within the organizational matrix of the administration and selected responsibilities are outsourced.




IntTN_05; IntTN_07.


eusalp brings together many coordination bodies, which are participated by different agencies or institutions related to the subnational governments. As an example, in the case of the Province of Trento, Agenzia Provinciale per le risorse idriche e l’energia (aprie – Provincial Agency for Water and Energy) is a member of the Action Group on energy, Fondazione Mach is a member of the one related to ecological networks, the Department of Civil Protection and appa Trento form part of the group working on risks related to natural events.


The Alpine Convention (1995) is an international territorial treaty concluded between alpine Countries, amongst these also Italy and Austria. The Convention addresses climate change as a transversal topic with dedicated declarations (recently, see Innsbruck Declaration of 2019) and through a thematic working body, the Alpine Climate Board, which bundles climate actions in the framework of the Alpine Convention.


The Euregio is an European Grouping of territorial cooperation (egtc) under European law which involves the two Autonomous Provinces of Trento and Bolzano in Italy and Land Tyrol in Austria.



Paris Agreement (Paris, 12 December 2015, in force 4 November 2016).


UN doc. a/res/70/1 (21 October 2015).


The relevance of the Paris Agreement is due to various reasons: it introduced new roles for non-state actors, including subnational government levels; it defined for the first time a common objective at the international level to reduce ghg emissions; it had great visibility at the public level, increasing awareness both among the political figures and among the general population.


The Austrian sample of documents considered for this analysis is composed of selected sectoral laws, 15a b-vg agreements and policy documents from the data collection. With the latter term we mean narrative documents by the subnational governments including strategies, programs and resolutions. The EU reference means reference to EU climate policies and or to EU law (directives or regulations).


The Italian sample of documents considered for this analysis is composed of selected legislative documents (including sectoral laws and decrees) and policy documents from the data collection. With the latter term we mean narrative documents by the subnational governments including strategies, programs and resolutions. The EU reference means reference to EU climate policies and or to EU law (directives or regulations).










Klimaschutzgesetz bgbl. i No. 106/2011.


IntT_01; IntT_07.


See Chapter 2 in this volume.


For a detailed evaluation of the effectiveness of coordination among these Italian bodies – based on the quantitative analysis of decisions taken in the field of environmental protection – see M. Alberton, Governance ambientale negli ordinamenti composti. Traiettorie italiane e spagnole tra unità e asimmetria (esi 2021).


J. Setzer and C. Higham, Global Trends in Climate Change Litigation: 2021 Snapshot, Policy report (July 2021).


P. Bußjäger, “Demokratische Innovation und Verfassungsreform”, in P. Bußjäger and A. Gamper (eds.), Demokratische Innovation und Partizipation in der Europaregion (New Academic Press 2015) 1–21, at 6.


D. della Porta and M. Caiani, “Europeanization from Below? Social Movements and Europe”, Mobilization: An International Quarterly, 12 (2007) 1–20.


The aspect of the influence of civil society on decision-making processes at subnational level will be discussed in greater depth in Chapter 9 in this volume.


IntBZ_04. The svp-League alliance in Bolzano (where the svp is historically the leading party, and built government alliances with the centre-left in the last 20 years), as well as the victory of the League in Trento, should be considered within the framework of the Italian political panorama of the last years. In particular, at the 2018 national political election, the League reached its highest electoral results, at the point that 2018 was defined “the year of the League” (; on the imposition of backlash politics in Italy and the reactions from civil society, see also: D. della Porta et al., Resisting the Backlash (Routledge 2022).








IntT_01; IntT_05.


IntT_06. See Chapter 2 in this volume.




IntV_02; IntV_03. However, the resolution has only symbolic legal effect and does not trigger any actual obligations to act. See J. Fitz et al., “Klima, Luft und Mobilität”, juridikum, 4 (2019) 510–513, at 510.


A program started in 2019, following the unanimous decision by the Land Parliament in 2018, by which Vorarlberg’s administration is to become climate-neutral by 2040.


IntT_01; IntT_04; IntT_06; IntV_05; IntV_06; IntTN_05; IntTN_07.


It is important to stress that this is the representation offered by the administrative figures and the exponents of the political parties in power. More critical reflections were presented earlier in the chapter, as well as by the opinions of some civil society’s respondents mentioned in the next lines.


See The Klimaplan is described in depth in Chapter 5 in this volume.


See the National Observatory on sustainable lifestyle, and the data on the electoral priorities of Italians, especially younger ones.


I.e. the energy autonomy program of Land Tyrol. For more information see Chapter 3, section 3 in this volume and under following link:



On the time-lag between the adoption of environmental policies and the effects on the environment, see A. Undendal, “Complexity and Challenges of Long-Term Environmental Governance”, Global Environmental Change, 20 (2010) 386–393.


We here consider 1990, as it is often set as a reference point in terms of climate goals.


These data refer to the period between 1990 and 2019, as the latest updated available dataset.


Source: Umweltbundesamt, „Bundesländer Luftschadstoff Inventur 1990-2019“, rep-0787, (Wien 2021), at 128–130 and Global 2000, Klimareport – Die Bundesländer im Vergleich (2019), at 43.


Source: Umweltbundesamt, Bundesländer Luftschadstoff Inventur 1990-2019, at 139–141 and Global 2000 Klimareport – Die Bundesländer im Vergleich, at 46.


ispra makes these estimates on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition and within the framework of the unece Convention on Long Distance Transboundary Air Pollution (Geneva, 13 November 1979, in force 16 March 1983). The main report is available here: Disaggregated data can be consulted at this link: These data are updated to the previous version of the inventory as they relate to the 2021 national data submission.


co2 equivalent is a measure that expresses the impact on global warming of a certain amount of ghg compared to the same amount of carbon dioxide. It is therefore an indicator used to simplify the reading of the impacts of various ghg (such as methane or nitrogen monoxide) by converting it to equivalent values of carbon dioxide.


These data and the following are expressed in tonnes of co2 equivalent.


IntBZ_04; IntTN_10; IntV_04; IntT_01.




IntV_06. I.e. administrative figures belonging to the herein mentioned coordinating units (section 3), who have the institutional task to coordinate sectoral efforts to integrate climate change and to report on the progress of the implementation of climate measures.








IntV_01; IntV_04.

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