Anti-coal advocate says oil firm should answer for harm caused by climate change
Gaea Katreena Cabico ( - September 17, 2019 - 3:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — Fossil fuel companies should be held accountable for contributing to the effects of climate change on people's lives, an anti-coal advocate from Bataan stressed as she staged a silent protest outside the corporate office of a major oil firm.

Derek Cabe, coordinator of the Coal Free Bataan Movement, protested in front of the Shell main office in Taguig on Tuesday morning. Cabe said Shell—which she dubbed as one of the “big polluters”—is fuelling climate change.

"Climate change is destroying the environment, especially in Bataan. Among the many effects of climate change is the decline in the catch of fishermen, decrease in the yield of farmers. These businesses also bring severe effects to one’s health," she told in Filipino.

Cabe, one of the petitioners who helped launch a human rights investigation into “carbon major” companies in 2015, urged the fossil fuel company to answer for what she said were human rights violations that stemmed from the impacts of climate change.

Shell is one of the corporations responsible for more than 60% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since the Industrial Revolution, according to a 2013 study published in the scientific journal Climatic Change.

“They have the right to do business but we also have a right to livelihood, to environment. Especially the youth, they have the right to a better future. If Shell and other companies go on with their business that destroys the environment, they are creating a climate emergency,” she said.

She also called on the oil firm start a transition to phase out fossil fuels.

“We have a lot of sources of energy. We have the sun, the sea, the air. We can harness these. They have the means but why don’t they do it?” Cabe said.

Shell: We safeguard the environment

On its website, Pilipinas Shell says it "safeguards the environment as it is essential for its operations, and promotes conservation to its stakeholders as a way of life."

It says it advocates efficient energy use as "the simplest and most cost-effective way to reduce emissions, and mitigate climate change." It says it does that through driver education, fuel efficient driving behaviour, and smarter mobility collaboration and strategic partnerships with relevant organizations to fuel the country’s progress."

The company says it "sets such high environmental standards which meet all regulatory requirements and often exceed them."

Cabe was among the individuals from climate-impacted communities who held small protests in front of Shell headquarters.

The protesters, who stood in front of the office building singly or in pairs, held up placards calling for climate justice—a framework that uses a human rights perspective to look at the climate crisis and that believes people can work together to create a better future.

Climate justice shifts the focus from greenhouse gases and polar ice caps to "a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart," the United Nations says on its Sustainable Development Goals blog.

The protests are supported by environmental organization Greenpeace Philippines, which said the Philippines is among the top three nations experiencing the worst impacts of climate change.

A UN report said climate change will worsen poverty and inequality, pushing 120 million more people into poverty by 2030.

World leaders will converge for the United Nations climate summit in New York on September 23 to present their plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Campaigners will welcome the summit by staging protests in New York and dozens of countries as part of a “global climate strike.”

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