Potential Human Rights Case for World’s Largest Carbon Emitters

In an unprecedented action, a government body has accused 47 of the world’s largest cement, oil, coal, and mining companies of releasing greenhouse gases that have violated the human rights of millions of people in the Philippines.

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) has sent a 60-page document to the likes of Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton, Anglo American, ExxonMobil, Total, and Lafarge, requesting an official investigation into “whether or not the Respondent Carbon Majors must account for the human rights implications of climate change and ocean acidification”.

The 47 target companies were identified from a study conducted by the Climate Accountability Institute in 2013, which highlighted the fact that only 90 global companies were responsible for nearly two-thirds of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the industrial revolution. 

The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate change.  It is experiencing increasingly severe heatwaves and floods that have been associated with man-made global warming.  In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people and displaced 650,000 others.  Four of its worst super-cyclones have occurred in the last ten years. Recognising the impact of mining on the environment, the Society of Jesus Social Apostolate (SJSA) in the Philippines developed a statement of principles a few years ago drawing on Catholic Social Teaching in the context of mining. An article from Ecojesuit, including links to that document, can be found here.

The CHR can only force the 10 resident companies in the Philippines to attend public hearings due to commence in October.  However, it has the authority to request assistance from the United Nations to encourage the attendance of companies that do not wish to cooperate. 

A copy of the petition document sent to the 47 companies can be accessed here.


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