Ten green oases in the cities, Italy is preparing for the climate challenge

In 2021, Italy discovered that life on a planet with an unprecedented concentration of greenhouse gases is more risky. It can happen that you lose your life in Pantelleria because the car you are in is lifted like a feather by a whirlwind; or burned to death in a Calabrian countryside because excess heat drugs fires. To reduce these dangers there are two obligatory ways: to lower greenhouse emissions (the causes of the problem are reduced) and to implement adaptation measures (the effects of the problem are reduced).

In principle, the available resources must be divided between these two objectives. But there is a technology, refined over a long experience, which meets both needs: trees. Plants represent a warehouse of CO2 and therefore remove carbon from the atmosphere, where it is in excess, to bring it back to the earth. But at the same time they offer shade, reducing the impact of heat waves, and drain the water that increasingly intense rains often turn into floods.

Thus, on the eve of the United Nations Pre-Cop26 that Italy is organizing at the end of the month in Milan in preparation for the Glasgow climate conference in November, the Oasi Urbane project was launched by Coop: 10 thousand trees in 10 Italian cities. Hundreds of young people, members, volunteers, employees, activists of all the main consumer cooperatives in Italy will plant the green defenses of the cities. The initiative, which has the patronage of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Municipality of Milan, will start in Milan, between 27 and 29 September, with the first planting of 1,000 trees and shrubs in two areas: the Rogoredo Park and a well confiscated from crime, Casa Chiaravalle. They will be planted by 150 young people who came from all over Italy to participate in the Coop Youth Experience.

The importance of creating urban green infrastructures was underlined by the two technical partners of the project, AzzeroCO2 and PlanBee, during the presentation of the initiative. According to the forecasts of the Euro-Mediterranean Center on climate change, a temperature increase of 2 degrees (with the current trend of greenhouse emissions we are going towards an increase of at least 3 degrees) will be enough to shock Italian cities with deadly heat waves (that of 2003 killed 70,000 people in Europe) followed by devastating floods. In this context, creating green barriers means offering an extra guarantee. One hectare of urban forest – assures the CNR – can in fact capture up to 5 tons of carbon dioxide a year and a good tree can reduce fine dust by 10-20 percent, making the temperature drop by 3 degrees.

“We designed this project to combine two needs: to defend the beauty of cities and their safety”, explained Marco Pedroni, president of Coop Italia and Ancc-Coop. “Planting a tree is a simple but powerful act. Anyone can do it. And we want many to do it. Since the Eighties Coop has been proposing campaigns to protect the environment in which everyone can make a contribution: those for a clean sea, to reduce plastics and glyphosate, for the dignity of work against illegal hiring. Now, as Prime Minister Mario Draghi clearly said, the climate crisis raises the stakes and asks everyone to act immediately ”.

Simultaneously with the Milanese inauguration, Unicoop Firenze presented the project to create a wood, also part of the Oasi Urbane countryside, while in Turin the reforestation of the Parco Stura Nord will be aimed at, as part of the redevelopment of the urban park on the banks of the Stura di Lanzo stream. By December the project will touch the other cities: Ancona, Bari, Genoa, Livorno, Perugia, Piacenza, Rome.

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