The Philippines has revealed that it will launch an investigation into whether fossil fuel companies are to be held responsible for the impacts of climate change.
The announcement was made in a press conference on December 4 in Paris, during the United Nations COP21 climate change negotiations, revealing that the Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) would launch an investigation on December 10 that could hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the impacts of climate change that are being felt around the world — and which are only expected to increase.
The announcement comes following a petition made by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, filed on 22 September, which called for the investigation. Greenpeace Southeast Asia was joined by 14 organizations and 20 individuals in calling for the investigation, and in excess of 100,000 signatures have been garnered in support of the initiative.
The petition requested the Philippines Commission on Human Rights:
to officially put these companies on notice
to request plans from these companies on how they intend to eliminate, remedy, and prevent damages (or threatened damages) resulting from the impacts of climate change
to recommend to the government that it provides a human rights mechanism where victims of climate change can be monitored and assisted
This is the first ever human rights investigation into big polluters by anyone, and will include an investigation of big companies like Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, and more. These companies, among others, are numbered among 90 legal entities identified in a 2013 Climatic Change journal article, Tracing anthropogenic carbon dioxide and methane emissions to fossil fuel and cement produers, 1954—2010.
“The response of the Philippines’ Human Rights Commission to the petition signals a turning point in the struggle to avoid catastrophic climate change,” said Kumi Naidoo, the International Executive Director at Greenpeace International. “It opens a critical new avenue of struggle against the fossil fuel companies driving destructive climate change.”
“This should hopefully inspire other human rights commissions around the world to take similar action. If I were a CEO of a fossil fuel company, I would be running scared. This is yet another indication that we are seeing the end of the fossil fuel era.”
“This investigation is not just about how fossil fuel companies do business, but that they do business at all in the future,” added Zelda Soriano, legal and political advisor at Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “It’s time we held those to account who are most responsible for the devastating effects of climate change.”
“We’re absolutely behind the Commission on Human Rights in seeking the opinion and cooperation of UN human rights experts and scientists, and its courageous investigation into these distant and faceless companies.”
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