NGOs question the climate commitment and respect for Human Rights of the Enel Group, to which Endesa belongs, during its Shareholders’ Meeting

The International Institute of Law and the Environment (IIDMA), together with Italy’s Re:Common and Germany’s Urgewald, question the climate commitment and respect for human rights in Enel´s business strategy at the Shareholders’ Meeting of Enel, owner of Endesa- Enel holds 70% of the Spanish company’s shares. The unnecessary lengthening of the life of coal-fired power plants in Spain, Italy and Chile, and the import of coal from suppliers in areas where human rights are being violated, such as Colombia and Russia, have put the energy Group in the eye of the storm: NGOs are calling for clear commitments to put an end to these problems.


Lack of commitment to Human Rights


Most of Endesa’s plants in Spain burn imported coal. Endesa has confirmed to IIDMA that two of the countries of origin of coal are Colombia and Russia, after IIDMA asked on different occasions about the origin of this coal. Some of its main suppliers in Colombia have been sued for the damages caused by coal mining to the indigenous population. However, Endesa has stated that its membership of the Bettercoal initiative, which produces reports on coal suppliers, guarantees its suppliers’ respect for human rights.

However, the NGOs have stated that Bettercoal has made very negative reports on the respect of human rights by a mining company in Russia, something that worries the organisations. According to Bettercoal, companies such as the Siberian Business Union Coal (SDS) violate human rights, pay low wages and impacts biodiversity protection. According to the data obtained, SDS exports coal to Spain. The organisations have asked Endesa to confirm whether SDS is a supplier of their plants, and also to confirm which Russian companies it is working with.


Lack of climate commitment in Spain, Italy and Chile

Endesa, which forms part of the Enel Group, has already confirmed that it will close some of its plants, such as Teruel, Compostilla and Es Murterar (groups 1 and 2), but maintains an ambiguous position with respect to two of the most polluting plants in Europe: As Pontes (Galicia) and Litoral (Andalucia). IIDMA asked at the last AGM of the Spanish company, on 12 April 2019, about the company’s plans for these plants. Endesa’s Board stated, to everyone’s surprise, that the plants could remain open beyond 2030, a measure incompatible with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. IIDMA has reminded Enel that both plants must close by 2025 at the latest, as the opposite contradicts the objective of limiting global warming to below 1.5º, an objective to which it has asked Enel to commit.

In addition, the Italian Re:Common has asked Enel for explanations for its actions in Italy. The Italian government has already committed itself to abandoning coal by 2025, so Enel should ensure that plants in Italy close by that date. However, Enel is hindering the Italian government and has taken legal action against the decree of the Ministry of the Environment implementing the closure of coal-fired power plants.  On May 15 it announced that several Italian coal-fired power plants would be converted to gas, but it still has not announced a clear date for a coal phase-out nor has it confirmed that it will desist from legal action. This new decision is also inconsistent with the situation in Spain, given Endesa’s announcement to maintain its plants “beyond 2030”.

Lastly, NGOs have also brought to light Enel’s actions in Chile, where the company owns coal-fired power plants, and have delivered a letter to the board of directors from civil society, communities and Chilean political leaders in the region calling for the closure of these plants in line with the country’s plans, which is working to set a timetable for closure by 2030 at the latest. Enel has not participated in the negotiations, and Chilean representatives have encountered numerous obstacles from the company.

“In Endesa’s AGM of 2019, the former President stated it would keep two of its coal plants in Spain working beyond 2030. This is contrary to the goal of preventing global warming exceeding 1.5ºC, which we must meet if we want to avoid the most severe consequences of climate change. All OECD countries must stop burning coal by 2030, at the latest. In Spain, this needs to happen by 2025. To tackle climate change, Enel, as the main shareholder of Endesa, must review its policies to set greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and coal plant closure dates consistent with a 1.5ºC scenario, especially in the light of Enel´s recent statements claiming to follow a Green Direction” – Carlota Ruiz-Bautista, Environemtal Lawyer of IIDMA.

“The time has come for CEO Starace to assert his climate leadership again and bring order within Enel’s group by confirming that it will phase out coal by 2030 to be Paris complaint and that in Italy no compensations will be asked at all for the closure at the latest by 2025 of the Civitavecchia and Brindisi plants.– Antonio Tricarico of Re:Common.

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