Report. After climate activists occupied a biorefinery, Confindustria Veneto and the confederal officials called their protest ‘criminal.’ The activists replied: ‘If our gesture is criminal, what can we call the actions of ENI?’

Fridays for Future vs. ENI: environmentalists respond to unions’ accusations

It was not long before we saw a response from the Fridays For Future activists in Veneto to the communiqué signed jointly by Confindustria and the confederal trade unions FILCTEM CGIL, FEMCA CISL and UILTEC UIL, which branded the occupation of the ENI Biorefinery in Marghera as a “criminal act.”

The event took place on September 12, when a large group of young activists from the Climate Camp that took place at the nearby CSO Rivolta invaded the area of the industrial plant in a symbolic gesture, hanging banners that denounced the polluting and climate-change-promoting activities of ENI in countries like Niger, Mozambique and Italy itself. It is enough, for instance, to think of the 400 tons of oil spilled from the Centro Olio Val D’Agri which contaminated the aquifers of Basilicata.

The initiative by FfF clearly upset the president of Confindustria Venice, Vincenzo Marinese, who wrote a strongly worded letter to the prefect asking for zero tolerance towards these actions. This letter was also signed by the confederal unions.

“Together, we wish to defend work, the safety of our employees, the companies and the manufacturing tradition of this territory. For this reason, we condemn the criminal acts that took place at the ENI Biorefinery,” wrote the President of Confindustria Venice, Vincenzo Marinese. “Such actions under spurious pretexts end up damaging both the productive fabric and the social one,” added Marinese. “The real battle today sees two opposing sides: one which is for work and the other which is against work. We, together with the trade unions, are in favor of work.”

However, the young people from FfF were certainly not willing to consider pollution as an inevitable consequence of work, and on Saturday afternoon they responded in kind to the position taken by the trade unions and Confindustria, putting on white overalls and occupying the entrance of the headquarters of the industrial association at Vega in Marghera, raising a long banner with the words “ENI is destroying the planet. Stop climate change.” Around 80 people were present at the protest.

“If our gesture is a ‘criminal’ one, what can we call the actions of multinationals like ENI and Shell, whose mining policies are at the root of the ecological crisis we are experiencing?” commented the young activist Sebastiano Bergamaschi. “To those who accuse us of endangering the workers, we stress once again that our action at the Biorefinery took place without causing any damage to the plant and without endangering the health of the workers. The same cannot be said for ENI, which does not hesitate to undermine the health of the entire planet.”

If you look at the home page of the multinational’s website—as the young people explained during the press conference held right under the windows of Confindustria—you’d get the impression that it’s an environmentalist association such as Greenpeace or Legambiente. There is not even a mention of oil, but only links to ecological initiatives.

“This is just a hypocritical attempt at greenwashing,” commented Sofia Demasi. “Fossil fuels remain the core business of the company: in 2018, upstream investments represented 74% of the total, with a constant increase in production since 2016 and a further peak expected in 2025. But the future we want, the only future the planet can have, is a future without fossil fuels. ENI is continuing to march in the opposite direction. Is this not the real crime?”

Subscribe to our newsletter

Your weekly briefing of progressive news.

You have Successfully Subscribed!