2015 Highlights: Top 10 Accomplishments

Your energy and advocacy sparked a global momentum shift over the past year, and we are on the cusp of true, transformative change. On all fronts, you have defended your right to a healthy planet. With your support, you help CIEL…

Advance Climate Justice

For three years, we’ve highlighted the growing legal and financial risks facing fossil fuel producers and their investors for their role in creating the climate crisis and undermining climate action.

In the Philippines, CIEL supported a petition to investigate and hold accountable corporate actors for the human rights violations suffered by Filipino people and communities resulting from climate change. 

We have worked with partners to investigate what ExxonMobil and other oil companies knew, when about climate change and to establish whether the companies misled the public and investors for decades about the risks of climate change.

These innovative cases are just the beginning of future legal cases that will seek to protect present and future generations from the impact of climate change and hold corporations and governments liable for failing to do so. Read more.

Empower Families to Control Local Development

This year, our Early Warning System identified a $400 million World Bank project in Chennai, India, that threatened to harm people and the environment. For many families, the Early Warning System was the first time they learned their rights were at risk.

We brought civil society and the World Bank together and, as a result, the Indian government released its resettlement plans in the local Tamil language and announced it would hold a public hearing to give communities a say in how the project will be developed. Read more.

Halt Illegal Logging and Protect Wildlife

Deforestation is a major threat to wildlife and biodiversity worldwide. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), we are focused on halting illegal logging and export of African teak, a beautiful hardwood tree whose harvest drives illegal logging in the Congo rainforest.

This year, the EU, a lead importer, blocked African teak imports from DRC for close to a year until it could verify that the timber originated from a permitted area. The DRC now knows that its African teak trade is under close scrutiny. Read more.

Limit the Trade of Toxic Chemicals

All year, we have exposed the latest, most outrageous ways that the US-EU trade agreement (called TTIP) threatens people and the planet, including:

  • Pesticide industry using TTIP to allow use of carcinogens, hormone disrupting chemicals, and other toxic pesticides, and interfere with efforts to protect bees.
  • EU proposals would usurp US states’ authority to regulate toxic chemicals, and threaten any state regulations in the public interest that exceed federal standards.

Our efforts have created greater transparency in the negotiations. In June, the European Parliament passed a resolution recommending that TTIP exclude chemicals, which if adopted, would protect people and the planet from increased toxic exposure on both sides of the Atlantic. Read more.

Defend Communities Against Destructive Mining Projects

In Cajamarca, Peru, communities have mobilized against the massive Conga gold mine project for years, even in the face of violent persecution. CIEL submitted a friend of the court brief, and the court is poised to rule on a lawsuit that could provide the legal basis for stopping the project once and for all. Read more.

In April, Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global announced it divested from Tahoe Resources due to its human rights record at its flagship Escobal silver mine in Guatemala. Read more.

Expose Legal Ramifications of Miscalculating Climate Risk

In May, our research warned that the world’s largest credit rating agencies may be ignoring the reality of climate change when they rate fossil fuel investments, leading them to understate risks and overstate value – potentially repeating the mistakes of the 2008 credit crisis and exposing them to significant legal risk. Read more.

Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline

“President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, joining millions of people across the country and around the world who have long since recognized that massive investments in fossil fuels are, and must be, a thing of the past. It is those millions who have won this victory for people and the planet, and to whom all of us owe a debt of gratitude.” -CIEL President & CEO

CIEL’s 2010 Freedom of Information request and subsequent lawsuit with NGO partners revealed that the firm hired by the State Department to review the pipeline had extensive prior business dealings with Trans-Canada. Read more.

Inject Human Rights into Global Treaties and Policies

Both climate change and the actions taken to reduce it have global human rights impacts. At the UN climate negotiations, we secured language in the draft agreement that would require Parties to “respect, protect, promote, and fulfill human rights” in all climate actions. Read more.

At the World Bank, CIEL, with the support of 10,000 people from 90 countries, advocated for the strongest possible human rights and environmental protections in policies aimed to reduce or avoid harm caused by its investments. The current draft of the Bank’s revised safeguard policies references human rights and recognizes the right to free, prior, and informed consent for indigenous peoples. Read more.

Connect Toxic Impacts and Human Rights

CIEL supports the work of UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Toxic Substances (and CIEL Attorney) Baskut Tuncak as he undertakes thematic reports calling on governments and business to do more to ensure that we understand our toxic risks and exposures, and makes country visits to places like South Korea to hear directly from those affected by hazardous toxins and recommend government action. Read more.

End Pesticide Spraying in Colombia

Last year, CIEL submitted a friend of the court brief to support a legal case seeking to end Colombia’s aerial fumigations, which spray glyphosate (known as Roundup) as part of the “War on Drugs.” In May, the Colombian government announced it would halt the fumigations program. Read more.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, governments are creating a treaty on Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration that will guarantee communities in the region have the right and ability to influence decisions about their future. We are proud to support this initiative that will enhance environmental democracy and create a model for other regions and countries. Read more.

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