It has always been said that while climate change affects everyone its impacts are not evenly distributed: race, gender, economic status determines how one would be able to cope and survive the impacts of a warming climate.
A number of risk indices has consistently confirmed that less developed countries are most vulnerable and least prepared to cope with its adverse impacts. Ironically the most affected are the ones who are least responsible and have least benefitted from the massive burning of fossil fuels.
While it is true that all of us is responsible for global warming, it is also true that there is a differentiated responsibility in terms of contributions to greenhouse gasses in our atmosphere. On another level, the entities/corporations that get coal, oil and gas out of the ground, and burn it to power our present economies are responsible for the lions’ share of emissions.
“The earth is not dying, it is being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.”
The primary driver of climate change is the cumulative (historic) emissions that have been pumped out the atmosphere since the industrial revolution.
In Carbon Majors, a groundbreaking peer-reviewed study published in the scientific journal Climatic Change, scientist, Richard Heede, was able to conclude that just 90 carbon major entities – including the worlds’ largest fossil fuel companies – are responsible for an estimated 65% of all anthropogenic CO2 between 1751 and 2013. The 50 investor-owned carbon major companies contributed 315 Gt CO2e, equivalent to 21.72% of estimated global industrial emissions through 2010.
The 50 companies, including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, ConocoPhillips, are a subset of the 90 legal entities that have contributed the lion’s share of cumulative global CO2 and methane emissions in the earth’s atmosphere.
“We demand justice. Climate change has taken our homes and our loved ones. These powerful corporations must be called to account for the impact of their business activities.”
– Elma Reyes, Super Typhoon Rammasun survivor
These big corporate polluters have profited from climate change and now must be made to stop polluting the planet with their carbon emissions.
That’s why this morning typhoon survivors, Greenpeace Philippines and representatives from the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Sentro, Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement, Ecowaste Coalition, Dakila, Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development, Sanlakas, 350.org East Asia, Coal-Free Central Luzon Movement, Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, Philippine Human Rights Information Center, delivered a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, calling for an investigation into the responsibility of big fossil fuel companies for fuelling catastrophic climate change that is resulting in human rights violations.
They are demanding an investigation into the top 50 investor-owned fossil fuel companies and their responsibility for climate impacts that endanger people’s lives and livelihoods, as well as that of future generations.
The complaint is an important building block in establishing the moral and legal ‘precedent’ that big polluters can be held responsible for current and threatened human rights infringements resulting from fossil fuel products. These companies have benefited financially with knowledge of the harms associated with their products. The groups submitting the complaint all agree that now is the time for the big polluters to bear responsibility for preventing climate harm.
Justice demands that these big polluters be held accountable for the sake of the many who live with the reality where too much rain, or too little, means the difference between a life fulfilled and a life blighted by hunger and poor nutrition because of climate change.