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‘People and planet, not profit’ – Greenpeace activists demand Shell show up at climate change and human rights inquiry

Published on 21 February 2018 Global

Batangas, Philippines – Activists from Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Philippines unfurled a banner reading “PEOPLE AND PLANET, NOT PROFIT” from Shell’s Batangas oil refinery today, sending a sharp reminder to Shell to attend upcoming hearings into the responsibility of big fossil fuel companies for climate-related human rights harms. 

The activists also delivered a letter to Shell demanding they own up to their responsibility for contributions to the climate crisis and show up at the first hearing taking place in March. The hearings are part of a world-first investigation led by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines into how climate-related human rights harms are fuelled by their business of extracting and marketing fossil fuels. 

“Shell and other big fossil fuel companies continue to line their own pockets at the expense of people and the environment! People are suffering as a result – from more destructive typhoons, less fish due to warming oceans, and declining food production due to drought or heavier rainfall,” said Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Philippines.  

“We have been trying to engage the big polluters to participate in the investigation and explain how they will change their business operations that continue to fuel climate change.  But they continue to ignore the plight of people and their families, choosing profit over people and the planet, which is why activists from Greenpeace Philippines climbed the jetty at Shell’s Batangas refinery, to amplify the people’s call.”

Shell, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ENI, ExxonMobil, Glencore, OMV, Repsol, Sasol, Suncor, Total and RWE, are among the 47 companies being investigated by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines in the world’s first national inquiry into the responsibility of the Carbon Majors for Human Rights Violations or Threats of Violations Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change. [1] The first of up to five public hearings will take place on 27-28 March in Manila, [2] followed by two more hearings in the Philippines as well as one in the US and one in Europe during the second half of the year. 

The investigation was triggered by a petition filed at the Commission in 2015 by representatives of communities across the Philippines, one of the countries most at risk from the impacts of climate change. The group includes fisherfolk from Alabat, communities living in the shadow of the Bataan coal power plant, survivors of super-typhoons such as Haiyan (Yolanda), and civil society groups, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Philippines. The Commission will conclude its investigation by the end of this year and issue its recommendations in early 2019, which will have the potential to shift global understanding of corporate responsibility for climate change. 

“For over 25 years, Shell has known that its operations presented a danger to the climate. [3]  What’s more, they had the resources to do something about it, but they didn’t,” said Kees Kodde, Climate and Energy campaigner of Greenpeace Netherlands. “Shell’s empty rhetoric on climate is wholly contradicted by the core assumption underlying its business plans – global temperature increases in excess of 3°C – and its lobbying against measures to mitigate climate change.” 

The investigation in the Philippines is part of the growing global movement of people demanding that their rights to a stable climate and healthy environment are protected. The movement is strong and diverse, ranging from groups of senior women in Switzerland; youth groups in the US, Norway, Portugal and Colombia; impacted fishing, farming and coastal communities in the Philippines; a citizens group in the Netherlands; to individuals from Peru, New Zealand and Pakistan. In each of these cases, people are pushing back using the power of the law because governments and fossil fuel companies are failing to protect and respect human rights. Fossil fuel companies, in particular, are facing an increasing number of climate litigation cases around the world. [4]

“This is a statement of justice, where the rights of current and future generations and of communities around the world made vulnerable by climate change are at the center of our concern, rather than the bottom lines of fossil fuel companies,” Llanos Dee added.

Greenpeace’s most iconic ship, the Rainbow Warrior, displayed the same banner message (“PEOPLE AND PLANET, NOT PROFIT!”) from its mast today as it sailed from Luzon to Visayas. The ship is currently in the Philippines for the first-ever Climate Justice Ship Tour, showing solidarity with climate-impacted communities and showcasing communities that have embraced solutions to the climate crisis. On February 24, the ship will arrive in the island province of Guimaras, which is shifting away from fossil fuels as an energy source. Home to one of the country’s largest wind farms, the island is part of the country’s “wind corridor,” an ideal area for wind energy generation. The Rainbow Warrior will then sail to Tacloban in Eastern Visayas, the region hit hardest by super-typhoon Haiyan, arriving on 28 February and staying until 4 March. 

The Climate Justice tour in the Philippines is part of the Rainbow Warrior’s “Climate Change and People Power” tour of Southeast Asia.

For more information on “Balangaw: The Climate Justice Ship Tour” visit www.greenpeace.org.ph/balangaw.   

Source: Greenpeace International | 21 February 2018