The 50 biggest CO2-Producers called to take responsibility for the effects of climate change

On 22.September 2015, Greenpeace Southeast Asia and Philippine typhoon survivors drafted a petition requesting that the Philippine Human Rights Commission investigate the responsibility of carbon majors concerning climate change. Amnesty International, Attac and further organizations also signed the complaint1.

Man-made climate change originates from decades of high greenhouse gas emissions, which were mainly pushed forward by the economic interest of oil, gas, cement and coal companies. With climate change comes increased natural disasters and more extreme weather events, which in turn is why the Philippines have been suffering from the ever-increasing severity of natural disasters. For example typhoon Haiyan hit the country in 2013 killing 6300 people and causing substantial destruction. The petition therefore accuses the 50 carbon majors of abusing the Human Rights of Filipinos by provoking natural disasters. Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell are some of the accused companies.

In April 2016 lawyers of the complainants met with the Human Rights Commission of the Philippines. Together, they chose climate experts, whose task is to illustrate the connections between climate change and the increased risk of extreme weather phenomena. The Human Rights Commission will also investigate, if Human Rights are considered adequately in the practices and investments of the carbon majors2. Afterwards, the Commission can make recommendations to the government and therefore has the opportunity to set a precedent for climate justice.

During this process there are still many barriers. It is for example unclear, if a company, which is operating in one country, can be held responsible for the effects of its activities showing up in another country. Hence it is very important to finally solve these legal ambiguities to make responsibilities explicit, visible and legally enforceable34.

One tragic aspect is, that the persons who are most negatively impacted by the consequences of climate change, are not the ones who benefitted the most from fossil fuel. Hopefully the investigation will show how climate justice can be legally achived in the future.


  1. https://www.earthrights.org/media/fossil-fuel-companies-face-landmark-national-human-rights-complaint-climate-change , 22.09.2015, last review 26.05.2016 []
  2. http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/26491 , 07.12.2015, last review 26.05.2016 []
  3. http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/may/07/climate-change-shell-exxon-philippines-fossil-fuel-companies-liability-extreme-weather , 07.05.2016, last review 26.05.2016 []
  4. http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/1887014/philippine-typhoon-victims-prepare-lawsuit-against-fossil , 05.12.2015, last review 26.05.2016 []
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