World’s largest carbon producers ordered to respond to allegations of human rights abuses from climate change
Manila, 27 July 2016 – Companies responsible for themajority of fossil fuel products that have been manufactured, marketed, andsold since the industrial revolution and have contributed the lion’s share ofcumulative global emissions of industrial CO2 and methane, have been ordered torespond to a legal petition that triggered the first-ever national human rightsinvestigation concerning climate change.
The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR)today sent copies of the complaint filed by the Petitioners, including disastersurvivors, community organisations and Greenpeace Southeast Asia, as well as anofficial order, to the headquarters of the world’s largest investor-ownedfossil fuel and cement producers. The order enjoins the companies to submitanswers to the Commission within 45 days.
The 47 companies that were sent the petition and the orderto respond to allegations of human rights abuses resulting from climate changeinclude Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, BHP Billiton, Glencore,Suncor and ConocoPhillips.
“We’ve been affected for so long by storms, droughts…byextreme weather, now made worse by climate change. We just want to live adecent and peaceful life, without fear and being at the mercy of bigcorporations that only care for their profits. Our only choice is to defend ourrights. We want those most responsible to be held accountable. We want justiceand to regain the ability to protect the little that we have left for ourchildren”, said Veronica “Derek” Cabe, one of the petitioners from Bataan,where communities are fighting against coal storage facilities and proposalsfor a new coal-fired power plant and where one of the community leadersadvocating against coal was shot dead on 1 July 2016.
The Commission launched a probe in 2015 looking intowhether the world’s largest carbon producers (5) are violating or threateningto violate the human rights of all Filipinos by significantly contributing toglobal climate change and failing to reduce emissions, despite having thecapacity to do so.
The Petitioners have asked the Commission, among otherthings, to require the companies to submit plans on the steps they will take toeliminate, remedy and prevent the devastating effects of climate change, in acountry known to be one of the world’s most vulnerable to these effects. Thecomplaint also asks the Commission to monitor people and communities acutelyvulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
“Ultimately, those who have profited most from pumpingcarbon dioxide into the atmosphere must bear the burden of preventing the havocalready being wreaked by climate change. This is the first step in thatprocess. The courageous Filipino people are the first to put the world’slargest carbon producers on notice that they must account for their emissions,"said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.”
The Commission’s actions are unprecedented. For the firsttime, a national human rights body is officially taking steps to address theimpacts of climate change on human rights and the responsibility of privateactors. After the company responses are received, the Petitioners anticipatehearings will commence in the Philippines in October 2016.
The Petitioners are calling the companies’ business plansinto question and asking governments around the world to keep fossil fuels inthe ground. This is another signal to the fossil fuel producers from peoplethat they cannot continue business as usual.
There is a growing global climate justice movement workingto strengthen the capacity of people around the world to take action inside andoutside the courts.