11 December 2017

Yesterday was International Human Rights Day and starts the one year lead up to the 70th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

© Matimtiman / Greenpeace

Yesterday was International Human Rights Day and starts the one year lead up to the 70th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption of the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

The United Nations is kicking off a year-long campaign to mark the 70th anniversary to raise awareness about the importance of human rights. The global organisation, made up of 193 member states, explains that:

“The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.”

Since 1948, new problems facing humanity have arisen. Climate change is one of them and has become a full-blown human rights crisis. Now it’s time for us to take action to uphold the rights of the people who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because in the end all of our rights are on the line.

This Human Rights Day you can do something that will make a real impact. Help us get the big fossil fuel companies to take responsibility for human rights violations resulting from climate change.

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines has asked the biggest oil, gas, coal and cement companies to attend a meeting in Manila today, to agree the next steps in a full-blown national inquiry into their responsibility for human rights abuses resulting from climate impacts.

A family takes refuge in Tacloban City after it was hit by Typhoon Haiyan. Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on November 8, 2013 can be seen as an indication of things to come in the future if steps are not taken to prevent climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with tropical cyclones likely to become more intense and more damaging.

Extreme weather fuelled by climate change is making life worse for those on the frontlines of climate change, like the communities in the Philippines. Their basic rights to food, water, shelter, health, and even life are being threatened by climate change. International Human Rights Day underscores the importance of human rights: we, the people, have rights, states have duties, and companies have responsibilities to protect these rights. No oil, gas, or coal company has a right to pollute the climate, and those who undermine, threaten, and violate human rights rights must be held accountable.

The national inquiry was triggered by a legal petition filed by disaster survivors, community leaders, Greenpeace Southeast Asia and 13 other organisations, two years after the deadly and devastating super-typhoon Haiyan, which killed at least 6,300 people and affected millions more in 2013.

Filipinos want to know how these polluters will change the fossil fuel business so that their children and future generations don’t have to face deadly and devastating climate impacts.

These companies are responsible for over 20% of carbon emissions since the industrial age. New research has found that emissions of the 50 biggest investor-owned carbon producers – the same companies being investigated in the Philippines – were responsible for around 16% of global average temperature increases and around 11% of global sea level rise from 1880 to 2010.

The big polluters have yet to go on record about their responsibility for climate disasters, let alone the harm to people’s lives, livelihood and property. This national inquiry is our first opportunity to set the record straight on climate change and make sure these companies are as committed as we need them to be to phasing out fossil fuels and ensuring that our future is powered by 100% renewable energy. Let’s stand with the people who are on the frontlines of climate change and spread their call for justice. They are the first to feel the deadly impacts of climate change, but all of us are at risk.

Will any of the companies show true corporate leadership on climate change by participating in the national inquiry and showing up today?

Tell the big polluters to show up at the investigation. It’s time for them to come to the table to answer tough questions posed by the survivors and to discuss solutions to the human rights crisis created by climate change. Communities, with the support of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, are championing this cause. And they need your help today.

Climate change affects us all and, if we don’t do anything about it, the way we live will change forever. If we all stand with the brave people taking legal action in the Philippines now, we have a chance to create a tipping point that could save the climate from corporate greed.

We are all in this together, and people are rising up around the world. The national inquiry in the Philippines is one of many people-powered legal actions. Greenpeace Nordic and Nature & 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 protect our right to a stable climate and healthy environment.

Let’s make this a win for Filipinos and for all the other brave people worldwide who are suing governments and corporations, and for all of us.

Add your name to demand #ClimateJustice and protection of #HumanRights:


Kristin Casper is Litigation Counsel for the global Climate Justice and Liability Project with Greenpeace Canada