We Are The World: On Earth Day 2021, These Groups Remind Us That The Climate Crisis Is About Human Rights - Lifestyle Asia

Seeking closure to the world’s 1st climate human rights inquiry, they are looking for a clear people-centered recovery plan, which would address the issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Environmental and human rights groups marked this year’s Earth Day by calling on the Philippine government to prioritize the systemic changes needed to protect Filipinos from harms aggravated by the climate crisis. 

As petitioners to the world’s first climate change and human rights inquiry, they are also urging the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to expedite the issuance of the resolution to the said case. The Inquiry, which took place from 2015 to 2018, looks into the responsibility of fossil fuel and cement companies for human rights harms arising from business practices that aggravate climate change. 

Compassionate policies

The groups believe the resolution can aid the crafting of a clear people-centered recovery plan as the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified issues that have long been driven by climate change. This includes food insecurity, health risks, and lack of access to basic needs.

“The pandemic has shown us how much crises are making already challenging situations even worse for our communities already suffering food insecurity, dwindling livelihoods, and other impacts of the climate emergency,” says Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Naderev Saño.

He says that an immediate and strong resolution from the CHR would provide a strong rallying point “to protect humanity from further climate-destructive activities by entities that put profit over people and the planet. This will be the Filipino people’s legacy to the rest of the world.”

Hoping for a resolution

The petitioners hope that the CHR will soon issue a resolution that could support the call for climate justice by holding the biggest polluters accountable. 

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice Erwin Puhawan mentions the recent Category 5 super typhoon that his Eastern Samar and Bicol communities, affecting 18,000 families. “Our case against carbon majors is simply to protect people and prevent climate catastrophe. We have only nine years left to take action,” he says.

“We want the CHR to release the resolution because it will give us some relief from the impacts of the climate crisis. It is high time we show the world that communities and people are rising up from the big polluters that are responsible for the climate emergency we face,” says Beckie Malay of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement. 

EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero says that they expect the CHR, as guardians of human rights, to ensure our access to mechanisms and remedies leading to climate and environmental justice.

“The time has come for corporate polluters to face the music and accept responsibility for the dire consequences of their fossil fuel investments on planetary health and human rights,” she says.

Community thinking

The environment is part of our lives, adds Josua Mata of Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa. “Nakadepende tayo sa maayos na pagandar ng sistemang pangklima. Nakasalalay sa maagarang aksyon ng CHR ang taon-taong, paulit-ulit nalang nating inaaalang babahaing mga tahanan, pamilya, at pangmatagalang kabuhayan ng lahat. Isa sa pinakamahalagang solusyon dito ay ang pagpapanagot sa Carbon Majors,” he says.

Derek Cabe of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement pleads for us to remember these communities who are succeptible to being hit by these calamities because of the climate crisis. “Marami sa kanila, namatayan ng mahal sa buhay, nawalan ng bahay, nawalan ng kabuhayan. Bigyan natin sila ng katarungan. Huwag na po sanang antayin na dumami pa ang bilang nila. Mahabang panahon na ang pag-aantay,” he says.

The imminent findings of the CHR are expected to provide an unprecedented basis for future climate justice litigation and ensuing policymaking needed to help keep global temperatures below 1.5-degree Celsius. According to an IPCC Special Report on 1.5 degrees Celsius, global CO2 emissions must be halved by 2030 before falling to net-zero by mid-century at the latest.

ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, BP, and Chevron are among the 47 respondents of the world’s first-ever climate change and human rights petition. The petition, which was filed before the CHR, now awaits its final resolution in August.

Banner Photo by Paddy O Sullivan on Unsplash

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