Landmark climate judgment against Shell hailed by PH groupsMay 29, 2021
QUEZON CITY, Philippines – Environmental and human rights groups hailed Friday a Dutch court ruling declaring Shell’s liability for damaging the climate.
The groups said the landmark ruling decision is a huge win for Filipinos and other climate-impacted communities around the world. (READ: Environmental activists score ‘important win’ against Shell)
In its ruling, the Dutch court ordered Shell to reduce its CO2 emissions by 45 percent in 2030. The decision comes as a recognition that companies, along with states, have the obligation to bring their operations in line with the science to address the human rights impacts of climate change. It ended the era of impunity of big climate polluting corporations.
Winning the fight
“People around the world are winning the fight for climate justice,” environmental lawyer Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda declared.
The decision, she said, provides “a very strong basis not just for future legal actions against big polluters, but in reshaping climate policies and climate-destructive businesses.”
She believes the Dutch court ruling will likely “force the other big polluting firms to stop blocking the just transition to renewable energy.”
For Dr. Nymia Pimentel-Simbulan, executive director of PhilRights, the decision also reflects “the need to heighten our vigilance and collective action in the struggle for climate justice.”
Commenting on the ruling’s impacts on workers, Josua Mata of Sentro ng Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa said: “It signals a massive shift in thinking about the legal culpability of transnational corporations.”
“This is a clear warning that their days of dumping their pollution on all of us—which affects workers all over the world—will no longer go unpunished.”
He warned Shell against “foisting on us false solutions like biofuels.”
Shell supplies biofuels to the world’s largest traders and blenders. In 2019, the giant oil company blended some 10 billion of biofuels.
Ian Rivera, national coordinator for Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, welcomed the landmark decision.
“PMCJ welcomes the decision of the Dutch Court. This may be long overdue, but this is precedent-setting, and we all need this kind of action to help prevent climate catastrophe,” he said.
“Companies like Shell and other dirty companies destroying our climate must face the consequences.”
In the light of the decision against Shell, the groups also urged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to expedite the issuance of the resolution to the Climate Change and Human Rights Inquiry.
The inquiry looks into the responsibility of Shell and other fossil fuels and cement companies for human rights harms. These harms arose from business practices that aggravate climate change, the groups alleged.
Once released, the CHR Resolution can be useful alongside the Dutch ruling as benchmarks to craft climate litigation. These so-called carbon majors include Exxon, Total, and Chevron, in the Philippines and abroad.
In an online event August 2020, CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz said the CHR “recognize[s] the importance of this resolution in terms of creating a landmark decision.”
He vowed other courts and human rights institutions in the country and around the world can rely on.
“The Dutch court ruling brings us a step closer to attaining climate justice for Filipinos,” Greenpeace Campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said.
This, she said, is a legal recognition that Shell and similar business model is “costing us lives and livelihoods.”
This business model also “impinges on our most basic rights and dignities as human beings.” (READ: Tackling climate and biodiversity crisis requires so little of world’s GDP)
“Following this ruling, we hope to see the immediate release of the resolution to the CHR climate inquiry,” she stressed.
She believes the CHR resolution will be “another historic precedent that will help end reliance on fossil fuels.”
Other groups such as Break Free From Plastic (BFFP), Ecowaste Coalition, and Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) also chimed in.
Von Hernandez, global coordinator for BFFP, hopes that the “CHR will take this as a cue to release” the resolution.
EcoWaste Coalition National Coordinator Aileen Lucero echoed the need for the CHR to speed up the release of the resolution.
The landmark decision should “embolden the CHR to resolve the case filed against fossil fuel companies.”
And Beckie Malay of PRRM, said: “People power can force the big polluters to reduce their emissions.”
“We hope that our community actions… have the same power to compel the carbon majors to act now before it’s too late,” she said. (amm/ PR)
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons