Around twenty people came to local branch of Italian bank Generali in Prague at Monday 10 a.m. to fill empty barrels with water from tap in the building. They focus attention on dirty investments of Generali supporting coal industry which rise to two billion euros. This money threatens people with water shortages in northern Bohemia in Czechia as well as people around the world. This is happening because the Italian bank supports a project of Poland’s government-owned energy company PGE which wants to expand strip mine Turów which in turn threatens with drying up of wells and loss of groundwater up to thirty thousand people from borderland towns of Hrádek nad Nisou, Frýdlant or Uhelná.1
Taking part in development of fossil fuel projects puts the Italian bank among contributors to global climate change which cause water shortages all around the world. The Czech Republic is affected by record droughts for several years,2 citizens of Rome and Barcelona were almost put under water rationing due to water shortages last summer,3 people of South-African Cape Town fearfully expect that all their water sources dry up at the end of this week.4 UC Berkley study found a link between increasing droughts and suicides among Indian farmers,5 water shortage causes malnourishment and famine in east Asia.
Petr Doubravský from grassroots movement Limity jsme my said:
“When focusing attention on fossil fuel companies as a cause of climate change, we often forget an involvement of banks investing large sums of money in coal. Banking on Climate Change study recently showed that financing fossil fuel industry by big banks increased by 11% to 115 billions of dollars. Generali is among these with investments contributing to water shortages in Frýdlant region, destruction of our planet and suffering of people around the world.”
Generali has a chance to fix its reputation in Trieste, Italy this Thursday, 19 April when it holds traditional AGM (Annual General Meeting) where company management will talk about its future direction. All around Europe, there’s a growing pressure on Generali to stop its support of fossil fuel industry and rather invest to renewables.
The strongest opposition is in Poland now where the Italian bank invests around 70 millions of euros yearly, especially to support operation of coal power plants Kozienice and Opole or expansion of open-pit mine Turów.6 In Italy, where the bank is headquartered, environmental organizations are preparing protests for Thursday’s AGM. In Czechia, assets of the Italian bank in fossil fuel industry are 14 million euros.
Limity jsem my is an open grassroots movement against fossil fuels pursuing climate justice. The movement held historically first climate camp in the Czech Republic during which more than one hundred and forty people occupied Bílina mining site in Most lignite mining region. The climate camp will also take place this year from 27 June to 1 July. This five-day camp includes lectures, workshops, networking but also an action weekend against fossil fuel industry.