Green group welcomes result of CHR inquiry on climate and human rights

Environmental think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) on Tuesday lauded the outcomes of the 3-year investigation of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) on the accountability of the 47 biggest fossil fuel firms in the world for climate related human rights violations against Filipinos, which were publicly announced at a COP25 side event late Monday in Madrid.

Represented by commissioner Roberto Cadiz, the CHR explained that the investigation, which it took on in 2016 upon the petition of more than a dozen civil society groups and affected communities, affirmed the reality of today’s climate emergency and its largely anthropogenic nature, and found that ‘carbon majors’ or largely polluting companies can be held liable for their contributions to climate change.

“The CHR’s statement is welcome news, especially as we observe the International Human Rights Day. For the longest time, these Carbon Majors have been recklessly emitting pollutants with no regard for the social impacts of their actions. The investigation’s trailblazing findings serve as a splash of cold water to these dirty fuel giants’ faces. No longer can they feign ignorance or shut their eyes from the reality of climate vulnerability that communities from the Philippines and across the globe have been forced to endure,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of CEED.

Arances said, “the CHR’s landmark conclusion is a glimmer of hope to climate vulnerable and fossil fuel affected communities, because it basically said that ensuring people struggling to defend their rights to life and well-being are able to do so is an obligation of carbon majors. Failure to protect human rights would place them in violation of moral and, in as of yet particular circumstances, legal violations.”

The commission clarified that while the report does not bear sanctions for the 47 companies, it showed that there is room for the Philippines to already take action with existing laws. It also paves a path for jurisdictions across the globe to establish legal accountability by strengthening and creating legislation.

CEED echoed the CHR’s call, adding that this “can only be the beginning in waking different stakeholders up so they could do their part in upholding climate and social justice.”

“We are in hopes that the CHR findings would initiate a domino effect in the climate justice conversation,” said Arances.

“For one, states that fail to restrict the activity and pollution of fossil fuel proponents would also be failing to guard the rights of their own citizens. Beyond the 47 private carbon majors, too, the findings should serve as a warning to fossil fuel corporations, both local and international, that business-as-usual is no longer acceptable, and that any expansion of existing dirty power is even more so.”

“And it does not stop there – financial institutions and investors enabling these dirty companies to pollute should review their funding and investment portfolios. Continuing to finance these corporations would mean they too are helping carry out human rights and climate justice violations,” he added.

“When all these different stakeholders have the capacity to instead develop clean resources of power, promote social and climate justice, and, in general, achieve the 1.5 degree C goal of the Paris Agreement, there is no reason we must remain stuck with a fossil fuel powered world, nor for communities to continue unjustly suffering climate-related impacts.”