IN a groundbreaking move, a bill aiming to establish a legal framework for climate loss and damage accountability, the first of its kind globally, was filed in the House of Representatives.
House Bill 9609, or the proposed Climate Accountability (CLIMA) Act, was filed on Wednesday by Bohol Rep. Edgar Chatto, Negros Oriental Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong, Albay Rep. Fernando Cabredo, Leyte Rep. Anna Victoria Veloso-Tuazon, Tarlac Rep. Christian Tell Yap, and Bukidnon Rep. Jose Manuel Alba, a week ahead of the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai.
Greenpeace Philippines, in a statement, said this is a historic proposed law, as this is the first one globally that opens up the possibility for corporate climate accountability to be recognized by a state and that provides measures to call for reparations mechanisms.
The development was announced on Thursday at the roundtable discussion “Climate Change Reparations: A Climate Justice Imperative” at the Bayleaf Hotel in Manila, co-organized by Greenpeace Philippines, the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC), the Climate Action and Human Rights Institute (CAHRI), and the Committee on Climate Change of the House of Representatives.
The bill intends to institute policies and systems to address climate change, protect communities from climate change-induced losses, damages, and human rights harm, and provide mechanisms for accountability and reparations from those responsible for worsening the climate crisis—including corporate interests such as the fossil fuel industry.
Felisa Castro, president of Kusog han Kababayen-an han Salcedo Federation (Kakasa) and a resident of Salcedo, Eastern Samar, expressed gratitude for the proposed law. She stated, “This is the right step to take because we need to demand payment from those who are responsible for what is happening to us today.”
Jochelle Magracia, chair of the Young Bataeños for Environmental Advocacy Network (Young BEAN), emphasized the importance of such legislation for communities vulnerable to the impacts of dirty industries and the worsening climate crisis. “It is important that we ensure policies like this are enacted because they will play a big part in achieving our dream of a safe and clean future.”
For his part, Rep. Chatto highlighted the urgency of the legal framework, stating, “Corporations have known the impact of their business on the environment for decades, yet they continue to engage in defensive tactics and greenwashing to deflect responsibility for the climate crisis.”
If passed, the CLIMA Act will provide the framework for limiting fossil fuel expansion and aligning businesses with the Paris Agreement. It will also facilitate the payment of climate reparations to impacted communities through the establishment of a loss and damage fund.
Organizations such as Greenpeace Philippines and the LRC lauded the filing of this bill, which they believe is an urgent need, especially as climate impacts continue to increase in severity.
Jefferson Chua, a Greenpeace campaigner, said, “We are calling on President Marcos Jr. to throw the full support of this administration into making climate accountability a state policy.”
“This is a welcome development, but this is just the start. We must ensure that policies such as this are passed swiftly through Congress and not watered down by corporate interests,” said Greenpeace campaigner Jefferson Chua.
Atty. Ryan Roset of the LRC described the legislation as “pioneering pending legislation” that shifts the burden of the climate crisis to the entities causing it. The CLIMA bill sets more stringent due diligence standards on business behavior and institutionalizes corporate accountability, transparency mechanisms, and a loss and damage facility for affected communities.