THE Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday conducted its first hearing to investigate the possible contribution of carbon to climate change and its impact on human rights.
Commissioner Eugenio Cadiz, the national inquiry chairperson, said the investigation into the so-called “carbon majors” was in response to a petition of some typhoon victims, human rights groups and concerned citizens which was filed in 2015.
“The inquiry asks if climate change impacts human rights and, if so, whether ‘carbon majors’ have a responsibility for it,” he said.
Carbon major companies are producers of oil, natural gas, coal and cement, and that most of them are non-state transnational entities.
“The Commission, mindful of its general mandate to uphold human rights in the Philippines, accepted the petition as the Constitution directs it to investigate and monitor all matters concerning the human rights of the Filipino people,” Cadiz said.
The inquiry was entitled as the “National Inquiry on the Impact of Climate Change on the Rights of the Filipino People and the Responsibility therefor, if any, of the ‘Carbon Majors.’”
According to Cadiz, the CHR recognizes the principle of territoriality in regard to the exercise of jurisdiction over any state or party and does not attempt to disregard the same, but it merely seeks to inquire if climate change violates any human rights.
“The inquiry, it is hoped, would result in the improvement and/or development of measures to further protect and promote human rights in this era of climate change,” he said.
“We can no longer ignore the impact of significant changes in global temperatures and the rising sea levels on people’s lives. We have been witness ourselves in this country to a spate of natural disasters and super typhoons, such as Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo and of course Yolanda, with grave consequences,” CHR chairperson Chito Gascon told participants of Tuesday’s first hearing.
“Some of the survivors and victims of these disasters who have directly suffered from them are here with us today,” he said.
The petitioners wanted to set the record straight that coal, oil and gas companies were very much responsible for the climate crisis, and that they must take actions to prevent further harm resulting from impacts.
“Justice must be delivered to the communities living on the front lines of the climate crisis. Their basic rights to food, water, shelter, health and even life are under threat from climate change,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia country director Amalie Obusan said.