Protesters, regional government call for coal plant shut down

Feature story - 26 October, 2008
A series of protests this morning pressured the energy company Enel to shut down its coal-fired power plant in Genoa, Italy. Enel is keeping the plant open, despite demands by the regional government to shut it down immediately.

Greenpeace activists added their voice to the regional government's - calling on energy company Enel to shut down its coal-fired power plant in Genoa.

Activists entered the power plant, and climbers hung a banner from Genoa's landmark "Torre della Lanterna" lighthouse. At the same time, activists from our ship Arctic Sunrise painted "Quit Coal" and "No Carbone" [No Coal] on the Ukrainian cargo ship Aristea, as it offloaded coal at the port.

About the coal plant

The plant, built in 1928, was due to shut down in 2002, but the previous Italian government, under Silvio Berlusconi, granted it an extension until 2020, directly undermining the regional authorities. Enel insists it will keep the plant open until this date. Enel is Italy's single biggest climate polluter, and is responsible for nearly a third of all CO2 emissions coming from Italian electricity production.

"The Genoa plant is way past its retirement age. Keeping it open directly contributes to the climate crisis and to local pollution," said Francesco Tedesco, Greenpeace Italy climate and energy campaigner, from the scene. "The regional government has made it clear that it wants Enel to close the plant down, and Greenpeace is here today to make sure Enel listens."

The Liguria regional government's energy plan is one of the few in Italy to be applauded. Greenpeace is encouraging it to push through its renewable energy plans.

"It is scandalous that Enel ignores the requests of the Liguria authorities," said Agnes de Rooij, Greenpeace International climate and energy campaigner onboard the Arctic Sunrise. "There is no excuse for keeping this massively polluting coal-fired power plant open, especially when clean, safe wind and solar power are able to produce the same amount of electricity."

Ciao Italy, Quit Coal tour continues with the Rainbow Warrior

The crew of the Arctic Sunrise and Greenpeace Italy activists have had a busy and successful ten days in Italy, challenging the coal industry.

They kicked it off by occupying a crane at a coal plant construction site near Rome, on October 16th.  Other activists painted, "No Carbone" on the power plant's dock.  

Meanwhile, the Italian government was trying block important climate change agreements being discussed by the European Union.  We helped turn up the heat on them in Brussels and back home.  After two days of talks, the Italian government lost. EU leaders confirmed their commitment to finalise the climate and energy package before international climate negotiations take place in December.

Next, activists blockaded an E.ON coal plant in Sardinia - stopping the two conveyor belts delivering coal into the furnace. We met with the regional environmental minister - while climbers maintained a 14-hour occupation of the conveyor belt.

We talked to the minister about how Sardinia should be investing in renewable energy instead of pushing more coal.  He agreed and promised the regional government would revise its energy plans to meet EU climate protection targets.

After this victory, we decided to show some support for a regional government that was already trying to do the right thing. Hopefully, today's action will get Enel to listen, and shut down its coal plant near Genoa.

The Quit Coal expedition

Time is running short. Quitting coal is essential to a meaningful deal to save the climate. European governments need to show leadership by phasing-out coal in their own countries. Our Energy [R]evolution shows how renewable energy, combined with greater energy efficiency, can cut global CO2 emissions by 50 percent and deliver half the world's energy needs by 2050.

Today's protests are part of a four-month tour by our ships Rainbow Warrior and Arctic Sunrise. Bringing the "Quit Coal" message to the Mediterranean and Europe. Our Quit Coal expedition is happening in the run-up to crucial UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Poland, this December.

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