Corporate Responsibility for Climate. The world’s first ever national inquiry into the responsibility of the fossil fuel industry for the human rights impacts resulting from climate change hits and important milestone in the Philippines on 11 December – one day after Human Rights Day (10 December). Companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Suncor and Repsol, are being asked to explain their role in making climate change worse.
The investigating body, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, sent Notices in October requesting the companies to attend the 11 December meeting to discuss and agree on how the investigation will be conducted, as well as evidence submission and witnesses (1). The investigation will intensify in 2018 and has the potential to shift global understanding of corporate responsibility for climate change.
“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 and one of the petitioners. “We hope CEOs of these companies look deep within their hearts and see how their profit harms people and the planet.”
Filipino typhoon survivors, other communities suffering the impacts of climate change, and civil society organisations, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), petitioned the Commission for the investigation in 2015 (2), 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 (3).
“International Human Rights Day should remind these companies why it’s important that they participate in the national inquiry. Extreme weather fuelled by climate change is making life worse for people on the frontlines of climate change,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, who is also a petitioner in the investigation.
“Their basic rights to food, water, shelter, health, and even life are under threat. People have rights, states have duties, and companies have responsibilities to respect these rights. No oil, gas, or coal company has a right to pollute the climate, and those that undermine, threaten, and violate human rights must be held accountable.”
“The national inquiry in the Philippines is an opportunity to set the record straight on climate change and make sure these companies are as committed as society needs them to be to phasing out fossil fuels and ensuring that our future is powered by 100% renewable energy,” said Saño.
The Philippines national inquiry is one of a wave of people-powered legal actions taking place around the world. Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth in Norway, young people in the US, senior women in Switzerland, a Peruvian farmer in Germany, a law student in New Zealand, and many others, are taking legal action to seek protection from climate change.
The day before the Manila meeting is a very important day for all of humanity. 10 December is International Human Rights Day and the start of the one-year lead up to the 70th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.