Philippines, Pacific Island nations sign Climate Justice declaration to hold big polluters accountable

greenpeace2Port Vila, Vanuatu, 9 June, 2015 — The President of Vanuatu joined climate-impacted communities from Tuvalu, Kiribati, Fiji and the Solomon Islands as well as representatives from the Philippines vowing to seek ‘Climate Justice’ and hold big fossil fuel entities accountable for fuelling global climate change.

The declaration coincides with the G7 Summit in Elmau, Germany, where world leaders were expected to discuss efforts to reach a fair, ambitious and binding climate deal at this year’s United Nations Conference of Parties to be held in Paris in December.

In Vanuatu, a Climate Change and Human Rights workshop was held onboard the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior [1], where Vanuatu President, H.E Baldwin Londsdale welcomed close to 40 delegates and civil society groups from Pacific Island nations. They were joined by representatives from the Philippines, including former national climate negotiator Mr. Naderev “Yeb” Saño and the Mayor of Dolores, Samar, Mrs. Emiliana Villacarillo. Mr. Saño and Mayor Villacarillo showed their solidarity with the Pacific Islands communities battered by Cyclone Pam in March and also shared their experiences from super typhoons in the Philippines like 2013’s Haiyan and 2014’s Hagupit.

“It is now more important than ever before that we stand united as affected communities in the face of climate change, rising sea-levels and changing weather patterns. Let us continue to stand and work together in our fight against the threats of climate change,” said Vanuatu President, H.E Baldwin Lonsdale.

Human-induced climate change is forecast to unleash increased hardship on the Philippines and Pacific Island nations due to stronger storms and cyclones. A new study [2] suggests that with climate change, storms like Haiyan could get even stronger and more common. It projects the intensity of typhoons in the western Pacific Ocean to increase by as much as 14% – nearly equivalent to an increase of one category – by century’s end even under a moderate future scenario of greenhouse gas emissions. Greenpeace believes that those most vulnerable will continue to suffer, representing a violation of their basic human rights.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia will soon submit a petition to the Philippine Commission on Human Rights asking the Commission to investigate the responsibility of the investor-owned Carbon Majors (or big polluters) for directly violating human rights or threatening to, due to their contribution to climate climate change and ocean acidification.

“Climate change is a borderless issue, gravely affecting millions of people worldwide. The UN Human Rights Council has recognized that climate change has serious repercussions on the enjoyment of human rights as it poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world. In this light, we view climate change as a social injustice that must be addressed by international governments and agencies, most especially those responsible for contributing to the climate crisis,” said Ms. Zelda Soriano, Legal and Political Advisor from Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Recent research has shown that 90 entities are responsible for an estimated 914 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) of cumulative world emissions of industrial CO2 and methane between 1854 and 2010, or about 63 percent of estimated global industrial emissions of these greenhouse gases [3].

“These big carbon polluters have enriched themselves for almost a century with the continued burning of coal, oil and gas. They are the driving force behind climate change. Time is running out for these vulnerable communities and the world’s big carbon polluters have a moral, and legal responsibility for their products and to meaningfully address climate change before it is too late,” said Ms. Anna Abad, Climate Justice Campaigner from Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

In a symbolic act of solidarity, the newly-formed coalition the harmed, signed the People’s Declaration for Climate Justice which will also solidify their intent to pursue Climate Justice, especially in the months leading to the Paris COP.

“Climate change is not a problem for one nation to solve alone, all our Pacific Island countries are affected as one in our shared ocean. Governments must stand up for their rights and demand redress from these big carbon polluters for past and future climate transgressions. Our climate-impacted communities have a moral and legal right to defend our human rights and seek Climate Justice by holding these big carbon polluters accountable and to seek financial compensation,” said Tuvalu delegate, Mrs. Puanita Taomia Ewekia.