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‘Haiyan’ survivor calls on rights body to issue report on climate change petition

In 2015, Filipino activists filed a climate change and rights petition that sought to hold “carbon majors” responsible for the climate crisis

Filipino youth climate activist and super typhoon “Haiyan” survivor Marinel Ubaldo called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to issue its final report on the Climate Change and Human Rights Inquiry, which was prompted by a petition filed by Filipino communities and civil society organizations in 2015.

In a press conference organized by Climate Action Network at COP26 in Glasgow, Ubaldo reiterated the importance of the impending CHR report to help end the age of fossil fuels.

“Filipino communities at the climate frontlines should not be made to wait for justice as every day of delay means another day of compounded human rights harms in the context of climate change,” Ubaldo said.

“We want them to really acknowledge that they (carbon majors) are profiting from our suffering. [T]hey should be accountable and legally liable for the human rights violations linked to climate impacts. And we want them to change their business practices because we cannot go business-as-usual,” she added.

In 2015, Ubaldo joined a group of fisherfolk, farmers, typhoon survivors, and civil society organizations to file the first-of-its-kind climate change and human rights petition, seeking to hold “carbon majors” or the biggest investor-owned fossil and cement companies, such Shell, Total, Exxon, Chevron, and BP, responsible for their contribution to the climate crisis, which cost communities their right to life, livelihood resources, shelter, among others.

The petitioners have been calling on the CHR to issue its report as it could give rise to legal and political actions to protect communities amid worsening climate impacts.

Once released, the report can be used alongside other efforts, such as the Dutch court’s ruling against Shell, to craft climate-responsive policies and institute more legal actions to counter the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to block the just transition to renewable energy.

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Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño, a petitioner to the Inquiry, said further delays on the release of the report will heighten the vulnerability of communities on worsening impacts of the climate crisis, especially as the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow stands to miss concrete actions on holding corporations accountable for the climate crisis.

“While the scientific community has sounded the loudest alarm bells on the climate crisis, carbon majors are trying to fool humanity into thinking that they are taking climate action through false solutions, such as carbon offsetting and exploring fossil gas, even as they continue to spew carbon emissions and rake in profits at our expense,” said Saño.

He said a “strong and urgent” declaration from the CHR on carbon majors’ responsibility could strengthen the Global South’s appeal for real climate action.

“Delaying the report further means providing space for polluters to perpetuate injustice and negotiate their way into carrying on business-as-usual, at the cost of our lives and our future,” said the Greenpeace activist.

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