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Oxfam urges PH delegation at global climate talks to hold rich governments accountable

Cyclists of Hilongos called for climate justice and demanded rich governments and industries to deliver climate reparations for developing countries. (Photo: Leah Payud)

Oxfam Pilipinas on Friday encouraged the Philippine delegation currently engaging in climate talks in Egypt to carry through with its promise to hold accountable rich countries and companies who have heavily contributed to carbon emissions and the resulting climate crisis.

The call came after the release of a new Oxfam report detailing how the world’s richest people cause carbon emissions of a million times more than an average person.

“The Philippines needs ambitious, comprehensive and inclusive climate plans to survive and thrive in the face of this climate emergency. The government should call for carbon majors or those who contributed the most carbon emissions to pay compensation and reparation for their historical and current emissions, on top of previous climate finance commitments,” said Oxfam Pilipinas Country Director Lot Felizco.

Felizco said climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines have the most to lose in the face of a climate emergency. “We should be at the forefront of this fight as we ensure that climate-vulnerable countries are armed with enough resources and technology to both mitigate and adapt to climate change,” she said.

Oxfam Pilipinas was among the non-government organizations that sent position papers to Environment Secretary Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, who is heading the country delegation at this year’s 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Department of Environment and Natural Resources earlier stated that the Philippine delegation believes that “addressing Loss and Damage is crucial for Philippine climate action plans” and that they will assert “what is due for the developing countries which hardly produce any greenhouse gas emissions, yet they suffer the most and continue to bear the brunt of the adverse impacts of climate change.”

The position paper emphasized the massive loss Filipinos experience when faced with extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. Super-typhoon Rai (Odette) alone killed more than 400 people and resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to agriculture, livelihood and infrastructure.

Oxfam Pilipinas called for climate plans that address the needs of communities most affected by the crisis, as well as their inclusion in the crafting of plans and policies. 

The position paper asked the Philippine government to include the following points in the climate talk delegation’s policy agenda:

Enforce accountability for real actions by high emitters on climate commitments made so far and increase the ambition of these.

Secure climate commitments aligned with the needs and priorities of communities affected by the climate crisis.

Ensure the prioritization of all women, girls, LGTBQI+ people and the most marginalized in policies and planning on adaptation, climate finance, loss and damage, just transition, etc.

Ensure the inclusion and engagement of communities most affected by climate change (women, youth, indigenous peoples) in the UNFCCC negotiation process (e.g., on adaptation, loss and damage, agriculture, just transition, etc.)

Billionaire polluters

Earlier this week, Oxfam released Carbon Billionaires: The investment emissions of the world’s richest people, a report based on a detailed analysis of the investments of 125 of the richest billionaires in some of the world’s biggest corporates and the carbon emissions of these investments. These billionaires have a collective $2.4 trillion stake in 183 companies. 

The investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tonnes of CO2e each year – the equivalent of France – at an individual annual average that is a million times higher than someone in the bottom 90 percent of humanity.

The actual figure is likely to be higher still, as published carbon emissions by corporates have been shown to systematically underestimate the true level of carbon impact, and billionaires and corporates who do not publicly reveal their emissions, so could not be included in the research, are likely to be those with a high climate impact.

“The major and growing responsibility of wealthy people for overall emissions is rarely discussed or considered in climate policy making. This has to change. These billionaire investors at the top of the corporate pyramid have huge responsibility for driving climate breakdown. They have escaped accountability for too long,” said Nafkote Dabi, Climate Change Lead at Oxfam.

“Emissions from billionaire lifestyles, their private jets and yachts are thousands of times the average person, which is already completely unacceptable. But if we look at emissions from their investments, then their carbon emissions are over a million times higher,” said Dabi.

The study also found billionaires had an average of 14 percent of their investments in polluting industries such as energy and materials like cement. This is twice the average for investments in the Standard and Poor 500. Only one billionaire in the sample had investments in a renewable energy company.  

“We need COP27 to expose and change the role that big corporates and their rich investors are playing in profiting from the pollution that is driving the global climate crisis,” said Dabi. “They can’t be allowed to hide or greenwash. We need governments to tackle this urgently by publishing emission figures for the richest people, regulating investors and corporates to slash carbon emissions and taxing wealth and polluting investments.”

The choice of investments billionaires make is shaping the future of our economy, for example, by backing high carbon infrastructure – locking in high emissions for decades to come. The study found that if the billionaires in the sample moved their investments to a fund with stronger environmental and social standards, it could reduce the intensity of their emissions by up to four times.

“The super-rich need to be taxed and regulated away from polluting investments that are destroying the planet. Governments must put also in place ambitious regulations and policies that compel corporations to be more accountable and transparent in reporting and radically reducing their emissions,” said Dabi.

Oxfam has estimated that a wealth tax on the world’s super-rich could raise $1.4 trillion a year, vital resources that could help developing countries – those worst hit by the climate crisis – to adapt, address loss and damage and carry out a just transition to renewable energy. 

“To meet the global target of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, humanity must significantly reduce carbon emissions, which will necessitate radical changes in how investors and corporations conduct business and public policy,” said Dabi.

Download Oxfam’s report: “Carbon Billionaires

Contact information: 

Kristine Guerrero |