ExxonMobil, Shell and BP summoned to world-first climate change hearing

| 23rd March 2018
Bob Dudley and Vladimir Putin

Bob Dudley, chief executive of BP, pictured with Russian president Vladimir Putin. 

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ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and 44 of the world’s biggest producers of fossil fuel products stand accused knowingly contributing to dangerous climate change in the first legal case of its kind. BRENDAN MONTAGUE reports

These companies have made life increasingly dangerous for the people of the Philippines and around the world, and there is mounting evidence that they have known the risks of their activities for at least the past 50 years.

The world’s first national inquiry into the human rights impacts of climate change takes a crucial leap forward on Monday (26 March) as the Philippines Commission on Human Rights hears evidence at a two-day hearing in Manila.

ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and 44 of the world’s biggest producers of fossil fuel products have been summoned by the commission to answer charges of endangering people’s lives and livelihoods by knowingly contributing to dangerous climate change.

Sam Hunter Jones, a lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “This is a huge moment in the fight to make fossil fuel producers pay their fair share of climate change costs.

Biggest producers

"These companies have made life increasingly dangerous for the people of the Philippines and around the world, and there is mounting evidence that they have known the risks of their activities for at least the past 50 years.

“Climate change threatens human rights - including people’s rights to life, food, water, sanitation, housing and health. Climate change must be viewed through this lens, and the Philippines investigation promises to set an important global precedent.

Hunter Jones added: "We call on these multinationals to participate fully in the hearing and hope that the Commission will find that governments and companies must act now to protect people from extreme weather and rising seas.”

The complaint was originally made by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, along with 13 other NGOs and 18 individuals. They claim the companies knew about the devastating impact of their business but did not cut emissions to protect people.

Hunter Jones concluded: “It is now time for the world’s biggest producers of fossil fuel products to explain how they will lend their weight to the most important challenge of our time.”

This Author

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist, founder of Request Initiative and co-author of Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The web of influence of addictive industries (Oxford University Press)He tweets at @EcoMontague.

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