Why Climate Denial Is a Human Rights Violation

by Anna Abad

August 8, 2016

Exxon, the fossil fuel industry, and their colossal denial scheme enabled runaway climate change with severe impacts on people all over the world — not just in the U.S.

Veronica “Derek” Cabe Speaks to the Press

Veronica “Derek” Cabe speaks to reporters about The Philippines Commission on Human Rights' investigation into fossil fuel companies for climate-related human rights violations.

© Nicolas Chauveau / Greenpeace

“We’ve been affected for so long by storms, droughts … by extreme weather, now made worse by climate change. We just want to live a decent and peaceful life, without fear and being at the mercy of big corporations that only care for their profits. Our only choice is to defend our rights. We want those most responsible to be held accountable. We want justice and to regain the ability to protect the little that we have left for our children.”

Typhoon survivor Veronica “Derek” Cabe

Those are the brave words of Veronica Cabe — Derek for her friends — a typhoon survivor from the Philippines. Derek and millions of Filipinos live on the frontlines of climate change and they are calling for justice.

Last year, Derek joined a group of 18 individuals and 14 civil society organizations — including Greenpeace Southeast Asia — in filing a petition to The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights (CHR). In short, they are requesting an investigation into big cement, oil and gas companies — including ExxonMobil — for potential human rights violations resulting from climate change.

Ring a bell?

ExxonMobil is the same company that the New York and Massachusetts Attorneys General are investigating for potential fraud because of its colossal climate denial scheme — which happens to be so big and powerful that it continues to affect communities in the United States, the Philippines, and the rest of the world.

There is common cause between the petition to the Filipino Human Rights Commission and the Attorneys General investigations: to find out what big corporations did to our shared climate while they cashed in on their products and the carbon emissions that result from them, putting millions of people at risk.

#ExxonKnew

There is more and more evidence showing that Exxon and the fossil fuel industry knew for decades that carbon emissions caused climate change, and subsequently sowed doubt over the problem to protect its profits. Even today, this industry continues to use its ample resources to block climate action, cast doubt on basic climate science, and stand in the way of a climate-safe future. It simply continues business as usual, regardless of the conspicuous need to change its behavior.

Climate denial violates our basic human rights. We need to address it to protect communities all over the world.

Climate Walk in Manila

Demonstrators participate in the “Climate Walk: A People’s Walk for Climate Justice” in Manila, Philippines.

Those responsible must be held accountable for it if we want people like Derek in the Philippines — or even you and me — to be protected from the biggest crisis of our generation, caused in part by the greed of companies like Exxon.

Derek’s story captures the plight of many. We have a choice. We can stand by and count the victims of climate change — if we don’t become one ourselves — or we can act to hold Exxon and its friends accountable.

We all have the right to live, to prosper and to be safe in our communities — protected from corporate schemes that result in violations of our human rights!

Anna Abad

By Anna Abad

Anna Abad is a climate justice campaigner at Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines.

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