Carbon producers: A week left to respond to climate human rights abuses

The companies responsible for the lion’s share of the cumulative global emissions of industrial CO2 and methane [1] that are driving climate change, have one week remaining to respond to a legal complaint in the Philippines that triggered the first-ever national human rights investigation concerning climate change.

On 27 July the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) sent copies of the complaint filed by the Petitioners, [2] including disaster survivors, community organizations and Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines, [3] to the world’s largest investor-owned fossil fuel and cement producers, also known as the ‘Carbon Majors’. The companies were ordered to submit their responses to the Commission within 45 days.

Petitioners gathered in Manila today to mark the first anniversary of the filing of their petition with the CHR. Their petition requested investigation of the Carbon Majors for human rights violations, or threats of violations, resulting from the impacts of climate change by failing to reduce emissions despite knowing that it significantly contributes to climate change. The Petitioners are also calling on the companies to submit plans on how they will eliminate, remedy, and prevent human rights impacts resulting from climate change by, for example, keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

“Though we are all somehow responsible, I cannot accept that we’re equally responsible for overheating the planet that gives us wild weather events and human rights tragedies like super-typhoon Yolanda. I believe the major companies with the biggest carbon footprint have to answer for what’s happening”, said Isagani Serrano, President, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM).

Anna Abad, Climate Justice campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines added, “The impacts of climate change do not recognize national borders or the limits of time. Emissions from the fossil fuel products manufactured, marketed and sold by these companies from the start of the industrial revolution to the present day will affect generations to come. We are asking people to stand strong in solidarity with those who are demanding climate justice. This is another signal to the fossil fuel producers that they cannot continue business as usual.”

Companies that were sent the CHR Order include Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, BHP Billiton, Glencore, Suncor and ConocoPhillips.

Carbon dioxide is acting on the climate like a performance enhancing drug. All that extra energy in the atmosphere increases the probability and intensity of extreme weather events, making droughts, storms and wildfires far more likely and far more destructive. The Philippines is one of the nations most vulnerable to the increasingly severe impacts of climate change. In November 2013 alone, super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda - the strongest typhoon ever recorded to make landfall - claimed over 6,000 lives and affected 13 million people across the country’s Visayas region.

The Filipino Petitioners are part of the growing global climate justice movement working to strengthen the capacity of people around the world to take action inside and outside the courts.

Notes to editors:

[1] Heede, Richard (2014) Tracing anthropogenic CO2 and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement producers 1854-2010, Climatic Change, vol. 122(1): 229-241; For the original report see: Heede, R. 2014. Carbon Majors: Accounting for Carbon and Methane Emissions 1854-2010, Methods and Results Report, April 7, 2014. For more details on the Carbon Majors Updates see Climate Accountability Institute: here.

[2] Petition to The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR): Requesting for Investigation of the Responsibility of the Carbon Majors for Human Rights Violations or Threats of Violations Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change.

[3] Petitioners include 18 Filipino individuals living on the frontlines of climate change. They are joined by 14 civil society organisations based in the Philippines, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Support the Filipino petitioners:

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