Enel stops blood coal imports from Colombia and commits to closing two coal power plants in Spain by 2020

Re:Common from Italy, the International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA) from Spain and PAX from the Netherlands attended ENEL Annual General Meeting on May 4 as “critical” shareholders giving voice to affected communities in Colombia and requesting ENEL to provide a closure plan for the coal power plants owned by ENDESA in Spain.

After the interventions of representatives from these organizations, ENEL’s CEO Francesco Starace made important announcements:

After investigations on several sustainability topics including social issues and the respect of human rights of Drummond and Prodeco´s activities in Cesar mining region of Colombia, ENEL informed shareholders that they did not find any evidence of on-going human right violations by the two companies, but ENEL did not exclude that past violations might have happen.In this regard and in their framework of progressively reducing coal imports for becoming carbon neutral by 2050, ENEL announced that it has stopped importing coal from Colombia as it did not renew its contracts at their scheduled termination with these two mining companies. PAX and Re:Common appreciate ENEL’s decision and urge mining companies Drummond and Prodeco to take the necessary steps to provide remedy for victims of violence. “Having said this, ENEL has to do much more on the coal issue. Promising to become carbon neutral by 2050 is completely inadequate. Power plants should be closed as soon as possible” said Giulia Franchi from Re:Common. The organization is particularly concerned about written statements by Enel to shareholders regarding its coal plant in Brindisi, one of the largest and most polluting plants of Europe: “For next years Enel has further significant environmental investments for the Brindisi plant”. Such an approach would cause further harm to local communities, the environment and agriculture around the plant and the climate.

ENEL, which owns 70% of ENDESA, a major electricity company which owns more than half of coal installed capacity in Spain, confirmed it is committed to close Andorra and Compostilla coal power plants by 2020 and added that “they will not ask for more coal subsidies in Spain”. IIDMA celebrates this decision as it is an important first step towards coal phase out in Spain. Nevertheless, “it is necessary and urgent to develop a closure plan for the rest of the coal plants in order to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement”, said Ana Barreira, Director of IIDMA. Despite this, ENEL announced investments in three other plants (As Pontes, Litoral and Alcudia) in order to meet EU standards. Also ENEL CEO stated for the first time that “According to me within 10-15 years we [as ENEL group] will not have any coal power plants”. According to IIDMA, ENEL’s commitment is on the right track But “It does not make sense to bet on a model based on coal burning, one of the most polluting and harmful fuels for our health, as there are other cleaner alternatives to produce electricity” stressed Barreira.

IIDMA and Re:Common presented a briefing which highlights ENEL´s responsibility in coal production in Spain and Portugal and in the absence of a closure plan for coal in the Iberian Peninsula. Thinking about a transition from coal in Italy –which still needs to be defined- without doing the same in Spain and Portugal would be a contradiction and a great injustice.

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