Rome – Twelve Italian citizens from affected regions, Greenpeace Italy, and ReCommon filed a lawsuit against the fossil fuel company ENI for past and potential future damages resulting from its contribution to climate change, of which ENI was well aware but chose to ignore for decades. The lawsuit also includes ENI’s two main shareholders, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A. that both strongly influence the company’s policies. According to the plaintiffs, ENI’s policies are in blatant violation of the Paris Agreement that was signed by the Italian government and which has direct implications for companies like ENI and their climate action commitments.
Chiara Campione, Head of the Climate Unit at Greenpeace Italy, said: “ENI scored record profits in 2022, yet it continues to invest in expanding its fossil fuels business, dismissing climate impacts and ignoring local communities in Italy and around the world who are suffering the consequences of the climate emergency. The confirmation of Claudio Descalzi at the top of the company by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, endorsed by Italy’s government, makes Italian authorities complicit in choices that exacerbate the climate crisis.”
#LaGiustaCausa, #theJustCause – that’s the name of the campaign promoting the legal action against ENI – is the first initiative of its kind against a private company in Italy. Globally, the cumulative number of climate litigation actions has more than doubled since 2015, bringing the total number of cases to over 2,000, with an increase in cases filed by individuals and non-governmental organisations that assert the rights of people impacted by the climate crisis.
The citizens who joined the lawsuit come from areas severely affected by the impacts of climate change, such as coastal erosion due to rising sea levels, drought, and melting glaciers.
One of the plaintiffs, Rachele Caravaglios said: “The region where I live, Piedmont, is already suffering the effects of dramatic drought, as the very low level of rainfall recorded this winter show, a problem that is likely to get worse in the future. That is why I decided to join this legal action. I don’t think it’s fair that Italy’s main energy supplier, of which the state is the largest shareholder, can continue year after year, an investment program that goes against what the best available climate science recommends, limiting our options to create a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all.”
Vanni Destro, another plaintiff, said: “I am suing ENI and the state-owned entities that control it because their strategies do not comply with the Paris Agreement in terms of CO2 emissions. ENI’s actions exacerbate the climate crisis, worsening impacts for me and for the region where I live, Polesine. Near the Po Delta, the sea will advance more and more into our lands, and as the salt wedge rises. we risk finding ourselves living in a desert or being forced to abandon our home and our land.”
The 12 plaintiffs, together with Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon, have filed a request for the Rome Court to rule whether or not ENI has caused damages through violations of their human rights to life, health, and private and family life. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs also demand:
– ENI to revise its industrial strategy to reduce emissions by at least 45 per cent by 2030 compared to 2020 levels, as indicated by the international scientific community to keep the average global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius according to the Paris Agreement;
– the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, as an influential shareholder of ENI, to adopt an ambitious climate policy to guide its participation in the company in line with the Paris Agreement.
Notes to Editors:
For information on the lawsuit, check our media briefing
 Italian citizens joining the lawsuit against ENI come from Italian regions mostly affected by climate change impacts, like Veneto, Piedmont, Campania, Marche and Sicily.
Prominent among these lawsuits is the action brought by Friends of the Earth Netherlands (Milieudefensie), together with Greenpeace Netherlands, other organizations, and 17,379 individual co-plaintiffs, which in May 2021 led a Dutch court to rule that Shell is responsible for damaging the Planet’s climate by requiring the British company to reduce its carbon emissions. The ruling was appealed by Shell.
The National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC) Report of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines confirmed that Carbon Majors like ENI can be held accountable for human rights violations resulting from climate change anywhere in the world.
In 2022, in a world first, the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that the Paris Agreement is a human rights treaty that takes precedence over other laws and in South Africa communities celebrated as the Court set aside Shell’s exploration right off the Wild Coast of South Africa.
Archive images are available at Greenpeace Media Library
Felice Moramarco, Greenpeace Italy, [email protected], +39 (0) 348 7630682
Luca Manes, ReCommon, [email protected], +39 335 5721837
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)
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