After the Italian government banned any new oil and gas platform at a distance of 12 miles from the coast, islands and protected areas in the sea, Italian citizens will decide on a referendum, on this Sunday, 17 April, whether to remove all existing platforms at the specified distance with the expiration of their concessions.
On this occasion, representatives of the regional coalition ‘One Adriatic/Jedan Jadran’, represented by 11 environmental organizations from all the Adriatic countries, visited local organizations, initiatives and representatives of public administrations in Italy jointly involved in the fight against oil platforms. Public administrations in the regions such as Puglia, Abbruzza, Marche and Veneta have a very important role in combating the exploitation of oil in the Adriatic Sea.
“By participating in forums, press conferences, meetings with activists and public officials and sharing leaflets with citizens across the Italian coast, we wanted to convey the message to citizens in Italy that they are not alone, that in all the Adriatic countries there is the same resistance and the fight against exploitation of oil in the sea and support them at this important moment of decision on the future of the common sea, “commented Dušica Radojčić, coordinator of the network ‘One Adriatic’.
The imposition of harmful projects is repeated in all countries in the Adriatic. Interestingly, the Italian government uses the same arguments that Croatian citizens hear – “if it is in a another country, why not do it?” In addition, misinformation is often used to favor the interests of oil companies such as the Italian ENI, which has become the main actor in the Adriatic for years. Therefore, representatives of the network ‘One Adriatic’ that visited Italy denied any information that there are oil platforms in Croatia or that Croatia is planning new oil wells.
“This is a classic mode of operation of the fossil industry, which does not care about the local economy, the environment or people. It is only their profit they care about and they often resort to manipulation and corruption methods for their own goals, “said Luka Tomac of Green Action.
The Italian economy ministry has recently been forced to resign for a conflict of interest after it has been discovered that it has favored the oil company. “At the same time,” emphasizes Tomac, “protagonists of similar affairs in Croatia continue to sit in board committees with the potential to continue unduly making harmful decisions. We remind you, former Economy Minister Ivan Vrdoljak and Barbara Dorić, the Director of the Agency for Hydrocarbons, have not yet had any consequences or are under investigation for direct damages to citizens and state interests as well as the environment.
On the other hand, Italian society is strongly opposed to oil lobbies. For example, in the Abruzzo region, there is wide social resistance to the exploitation of oil. The ‘No Ombrina’ movement, which brings together many local communities, fishermen, winemakers, institutions, national parks, NGOs, local authorities, the tourism sector, etc. has been founded in 2008. The movement ‘No Ombrina’ mobilized many citizens in May 2015, in Lanciano where 60,000 people gathered in protest. After 4 years of campaign, they managed to stop the project of building the Ombrina oil platform in the seafront of Pescara.
“No Ombrina” movement is an example of a successful co-operation between different local interest groups and environmental and social initiatives that are interested in the sustainable development of their region rather than the ‘development’ that impels central government at the expense of the local community. The key to success in Italy is the model of association and joint action. Croatia still lacks social infrastructure that could more actively participate in decisions that affect it, “said Radojčić.
The Croatian positive example of the moratorium on oil drilling is followed by France, which on April 8th also announced a moratorium on oil and gas exploration across the Mediterranean, which is another important step towards the end of the fossil era.
“We hope that Italy will move in the same direction, although it should be noted that the referendum itself is a big victory because it was approved on the initiative of ten Italian regions, with the key encouragement of local communities,” concluded Tomac.
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