‘Carbon majors’ snub CHR inquiry on climate change
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - March 29, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — So-called “carbon major” companies named in a human rights petition before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have ignored the first leg of hearings organized as part of the inquiry on their alleged role in the devastation caused by climate change.

No representative from the respondent companies, mainly transnational fossil fuel producers, have participated in the proceedings where experts and typhoon victims were presented before the commission.

But in an interview with The STAR on Tuesday, CHR commissioner and National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC) chair Roberto Cadiz said he believes that the companies are closely observing the proceedings.

“This is a very important issue. Climate change is a cutting-edge issue now in the field of human rights. This is the very first case in the world where the issue of climate change is framed as a human rights issue,” he said.

The CHR official said none of the respondents have signified their intention to present their own witnesses, with some questioning the jurisdiction of the CHR to conduct the inquiry.

“Our mandate is to investigate all human rights violations of the Filipino people,” Cadiz said.

Since this petition alleges that the business operations of the carbon majors are impacting the human rights of the Filipino people, “we are obligated to conduct (the inquiry)… Since such an allegation has been made, we are duty-bound to look into that allegation.”

Cadiz said the NICC will continue to invite the carbon majors to take part in the proceedings, saying their purpose is to foster dialogue between stakeholders.

He said they will also take into account previous statements made by the companies to ensure that they get the full picture in determining whether climate change results in human rights violations and whether or not the carbon majors have a role in it.

The petition, filed by environment groups and citizens affected by changes in the weather, alleged that the fossil fuel producers contribute to global warming and should be held accountable for the devastation caused by stronger typhoons and other phenomena tied to climate change.

Cadiz, however, clarified that the inquiry will not impose any penalties should it agree with the allegations made by the petitioners.

Instead, he said they would come up with a resolution containing recommendations to policymakers on what they can do to address climate change.

He said their records will be available to the public should anyone intend to file cases in regular courts to pursue civil or criminal charges.

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