BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 22 September '15

Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell among companies facing landmark national human rights complaint on climate change

Typhoon survivors and civil society groups in the Philippines today delivered a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) calling for an investigation into the responsibility of big fossil fuel companies for fuelling catastrophic climate change that results in human rights violations.

The complaint, which is the first of its kind in the world, is being brought forward by typhoon survivors, advocates and non-governmental organisations, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

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Demanding justice

The group is demanding an investigation into the top 50 investor-owned fossil fuel companies and their responsibility for climate impacts that endanger people’s lives and livelihoods, as well as those of future generations.

‘We demand justice. Climate change has taken our homes and our loved ones. These powerful corporations must be called to account for the impact of their business activities’, said Elma Reyes from Alabat Island in Quezon, who survived Super Typhoon Rammasun and is part of the group submitting the complaint to the CHR.

The ‘lion’s share’ of emissions

The 50 companies – including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips – are a subset of the 90 legal entities that have contributed the lion’s share of cumulative global CO2 and methane emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere, as identified by peer-reviewed research.

Organisations that have provided advice and support to the group submitting 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.

‘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.’

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Executive Secretary of Caritas Philippines

The groups submitting the complaint are calling for the investigation to be launched this year.

Establishing a precedent

This is an important building block in establishing the moral and legal precedent that big polluters can be held responsible for current and threatened human rights infringements resulting from fossil fuel products.

‘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 Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines 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.’

Attorney Zelda Soriano, legal and political advisor for Greenpeace Southeast Asia

These companies have benefited financially with knowledge of the harms associated with their products. The groups submitting the complaint all agree that now is the time for the big polluters to bear responsibility for preventing climate harm.