Europe’s biggest energy company, Italian multinational Enel, has suspended imports of coal from the Cesar mining region Colombia. Enel CEO Francesco Starace stated this at the annual stockholders meeting in Rome. The announcement was made in the context of investigations into the human rights impact in the coal mining region of Cesar and Enel’s de-carbonization strategy.
Enel will not renew its contracts unless its operational requirements and sustainability standards, including on human rights, are met. PAX appreciates Enel’s investigation and the fact that it keeps the door open for a renewal of coal imports. PAX hopes it encourages mining companies Drummond and Prodeco to take steps to provide remedy for victims of violence.
Starace indicated Enel has done its own investigations on several sustainability topics including the respect for human rights at Drummond and Prodeco´s operations in Colombia. Starace: "We did identify certain areas – in particular relating to the local communities in the region – where substantial improvement areas were suggested.” Asked if this research led Enel to cease its coal imports from Drummond and Prodeco, Starace said, ”We interrupted all import of coal from the identified companies, in line with Enel’s reduced coal demand. At the moment we do not have ongoing contracts with Prodeco or Drummond.” Starace also stated that ”Enel does not rule out the possibility of reactivating its supply from the above-mentioned Colombian coal suppliers.” In that case Enel will make another assessment – as it does for all its suppliers - in order to verify at that time if all Enel sustainability standards and its code of ethics are met, including those on human rights.
PAX appreciates the fact that Enel has conducted an investigation into the human rights impact in Cesar. Wouter Kolk, coordinator of the Stop Blood Coal campaign, says ”We hope Enel’s decision to suspend its coal imports from Cesar is a step in taking responsibility for the human rights impact in the Colombian coal supply chain. PAX urges Enel to stay engaged and make a possible renewal of its coal imports conditional on a clear action plan geared towards the remediation of victim communities in the mining region. Only then will it conduct its phasing out of coal in a responsible way.”
Do what Dong did
Enel´s decision grew out of last year’s shareholder meeting. PAX and Italian NGO Re:Common spoke at the meeting in May, 2016, urging Enel to assess and address the severe human rights violations that have taken place in its Colombian coal supply chain and use its economic leverage to pressure the mining companies. Starace promised to do so. At the time he said, “Enel will start its own investigation in Cesar and if we don’t like the look of the results, we will do the same as Dong and stop buying coal from Cesar.” Danish energy company Dong decided last year to stop importing coal from the Cesar region pending an improvement plan aimed amongst other things at mitigation and remedy for human rights violations.