Companies summoned to Phillipines investigation into climate change

By agency reporter
October 22, 2017

The Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines has called on 47 carbon producers to attend a preliminary meeting in its investigation into their corporate responsibility for climate-related human rights abuses. The companies include ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Total, BHP Billiton, Suncor, and ConocoPhillips.

This is the first opportunity for  the Filipino petitioners to  meet representatives of the fossil fuel companies face-to-face. Though carbon producers might choose to ignore the request for their attendance, the preliminary conference is set to take place on 11 December, in which the petitioners and companies need to discuss and agree evidence submission and witness testimonies.

“This is an unprecedented moment in the climate justice movement and especially for the thousands of typhoon survivors who are living with the impacts of climate change,” said Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in the Philippines.

Filipino typhoon survivors, other communities suffering the impacts of climate change, and civil society organisations, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), initially petitioned the Commission for the investigation in 2015, two years after super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) claimed the lives of more than 6,300 people and affected millions of others who have yet to recover.

The Commission has full authority, based on its mandate under the Philippine Constitution, to investigate human rights harms in the Philippines, including impacts resulting from the companies’ global activities. So far, the companies have been using ‘courtroom tactics’ in an effort to avoid public scrutiny of their business activities that are contributing to human rights harms. Failure to attend the 11 December preliminary meeting would be a reflection of its lack of commitment to its corporate responsibility, says Greenpeace

“All the recent extreme weather events – from hurricanes in the US to monsoon flooding in South Asia –

is not a coincidence. It’s the result of climate change”, said Llanos Dee. “A wave of climate justice cases are happening around the world, so while fossil fuel companies may try to run, they can’t hide. The science is clear: pollution from fossil fuel companies drives climate change, and this move by the Commission sends a strong signal around the world that those responsible for climate change will be held accountable.”

Despite knowing the severe risks posed by climate change for decades, the fossil fuel industry continues to drive climate change. The trend towards renewable energy is growing and, with the Paris Agreement in force, a move towards an era free from fossil fuels is inevitable, along with a just transition for workers and communities affected by the industry’s downfall.

“The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and the petitioners will not back down,” said AG Saño, visual artist, activist, and one of the petitioners who survived super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“We urge the CEOs of these major carbon producers to fully participate in the investigation, publicise their plans for stopping their use of fossil fuels, and explain how they intend to eliminate, remedy, or prevent human rights harms from climate change. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. After all we want to thrive and not just survive.”

“Many homes were destroyed during Typhoon Yolanda and people died – including some I knew”, said Isagani Serrano, president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), an organisation that provides support in the aftermath of disasters. “We hope these CEOs look deep in their hearts and see how their profit harms people and the planet.”

* Greenpeace International http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/

[Ekk/6]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.