Experts back complaint against ‘carbon majors’
Two US-based climate experts have backed local green groups and basic sectors in their pioneering petition to hold fossil fuel companies accountable for climate change-related human rights violations.
“I think there is a tremendous amount of factual data culled … connecting the responsibility of ‘carbon majors’ to human rights impacts being suffered by the Filipino people,” said Lisa Anne Hamilton, director of the Climate and Energy Program of the US-based nonprofit Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), during an inquiry held by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Wednesday.
47 fossil fuel companies
The CHR heard a complaint brought by organizations led by Greenpeace Southeast Asia alleging that 47 multinational fossil fuel companies were responsible for climate change effects and possible human rights violations particularly on Filipinos, especially following Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) in 2013.
Hamilton, farmers, marine scientists, indigenous people, climate and health experts, and even a jeepney driver testified at the hearing held at the CHR central office in Quezon City.
Hamilton said that various documents collated in the 2017 CIEL report, “Smoke and Fumes: The Legal and Evidentiary Basis for Holding Big Oil Accountable for the Climate Crisis,” showed that fossil fuel companies were aware of their impact on carbon dioxide atmospheric concentrations and climate change as early as the 1950s, yet refused to prevent it.
“There is … sufficient data suggesting that these entities were collectively aware of the risks to life. With sophisticated science, they knew there would be sea level rise, changes to agriculture and impacts on access to food, water, the right to livelihood, among basic human rights … [and that] that impact would be global,” Hamilton said.
New York, London hearings
Peter Frumhoff, chief climate scientist of the Union of Concerned Scientists, also testified via Skype on Tuesday, saying that based on a 2017 study he coauthored, the 90 largest carbon producers, comprised mostly of fossil fuel and cement companies, contributed around 57 percent to the observed rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide, 50 percent of the rise in global average temperature, and 30 percent of global sea level rise since the 1880s.
Human Rights Commissioner Roberto Eugenio Cadiz said the inquiry would resume in May.
The inquiry will also be brought to New York and London, hosted by New York State Bar Association and the London School of Economics, respectively. —Jaymee T. Gamil
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