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Corporate responsibility for climate change

World’s first human rights investigation into corporate responsibility for climate change intensifies
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Corporate responsibility for climate change

The world’s first ever national inquiry into the the fossil fuel industry’s responsibility for human rights impacts caused by climate change will hit an important milestone in the Philippines today (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.

Profits harming people and planet

The investigating body, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, sent notices in October requesting the companies to attend the 11 December meeting. They were asked to discuss and agree on how the investigation will be conducted, and submit evidence and witnesses.

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, a petitioner and president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), an organisation that provides support in the aftermath of disasters. ‘We hope CEOs of these companies look deep within their hearts and see how their profit harms people and the planet.’

Respecting human rights

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, 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.

‘Extreme weather fuelled by climate change is making life worse for people on the frontlines of climate change. 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.’

Executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, and a petitioner in the investigation

Setting the record straight

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 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.’

Executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, and a petitioner in the investigation

This year’s International Human Rights Day marked 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.

Click here to find out how a Shell ruling gave ‘green light for corporations to profit from abuses overseas’.

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