Fossil fuel companies face world-first human rights complaint

Chevron, BP and Shell are among 50 oil companies who face an investigation from the Phillipine courts, after accusations that they have fuelled 'catastrophic climate change resulting in human rights violations'.

A complaint has been submitted to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, demanding an investigation into the top 50 investor-owned companies which release the most CO2 emissions annually.

The complaint calls for the investigation to launch this year as it will establish a ‘moral and legal precedent’ that big polluters can be held accountable for current ‘human rights infringements’.

Between 2000 and 2008, weather-related disasters accounted for 78% of all disaster-based deaths in the Philippines. Over the last 10 years the country had to deal with damages of up to $24bn due to storms affecting 12.1 million people.

Attorney Zelda Soriano, a legal and political advisor for Greenpeace Southeast Asia said: “From the Netherlands to the US, people are using legal systems to hold their governments to account and demand climate action.

“We hope that the CHR will take the bold step in being the first in the world to hold big corporate polluters accountable for their contribution to the climate crisis.”

Pointing the finger

A report released by the Climate Mitigation Services, highlighted Chevron and ExxonMobil as the top investor & state-owned oil/NGL producers pointing to the vast amount of carbon emissions that the companies expended as a result.

Organisations who have signed up to the complaint include Amnesty International, Avaaz, Business and Human Rights Resources Centre, Climate Justice Programme, the Center for International Environmental Law, EarthRights International, International Trade Union Confederation, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, the executive secretary of Catholic social justice group Caritas Philippines said:  “We pray that the CHR heed the demand to recommend to policymakers and legislators to develop and adopt effective accountability mechanisms that victims of climate change can easily access.

“Inspired by Pope Francis, the Church will support this Philippine climate change and human rights complaint and will continue to serve as a strong ally in the struggle for a socially just, environmentally sustainable, and spiritually rich world that the Pope and the broader climate movement are fighting for.”

Dangerous climate

This isn’t the first time that natural disasters have been used as a catalyst to try and get governments on board with climate change policies. In 2013 governments across the world were urged that Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines, should be used as a “wake-up call” on the dangers of climate change.

The news comes just days after the world’s ‘first climate refugee’ Ioane Teitiota, looks set to be deported from New Zealand.

The climate change and human rights complaint filed to the CHR


 Matt Mace

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