From Common Dreams, March 2020
350.org surveyed the region of Ogoniland in Nigeria, where Shell Oil has dumped an estimated nine to 13 million barrels of crude oil into the Niger Delta since 1958.
“Companies are actively disregarding the right of entire populations to a healthy environment, sufficient and quality food, and a political and social scenario of stability.”
—Aaron Packard, 350.org
The company’s activities in Ogoniland have led to polluted air and water as well as decimated natural habitats, violating the rights of the 832,000 people who live there.
The local government has also worked with Shell to suppress the right of people in Ogoniland to fight against the pollution.
“Protests against widespread and persistent oil pollution have been brutally repressed, with loss of life and a series of other egregious human rights violations,” the report reads. “Victims of severe human rights abuses associated with oil extraction in the Niger Delta are still awaiting for remediation of the harm caused to their lands, water, and livelihood, in spite of multiple victories before courts and human rights bodies.”
Shell’s activities in the Niger Delta are just one example of how the fossil fuel industry has led to an estimated 45,000 premature deaths due to pollution, crop losses resulting from drought and other climate extremes, and other environmental results of the carbon emissions.
The report also points to coal power plants in the Muğla region of Turkey, where companies have done “severe environmental harm” since 1983. Emissions from the plants have been linked to premature deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, and cancer, while the companies have forced communities to leave the area as they ramp up their operations.
The European Court of Human Rights recognized in 2005 that the communities had a right to bring legal action against the plants, but the companies have not ceased their extraction of coal and the resulting pollution. Governments, 350.org wrote, must pass legislation to rein in the fossil fuel industry.
The recognition by courts of human rights is “no replacement for effective legislation concerning environmental harm,” the report states, “and human rights remedies are no replacement for effective preventive and remedial measures against environmental harm caused by fossil fuel companies.”
Other cases detailed in the report include threats to water security in Australia and the contamination of rivers and fish stocks in indigenous territories in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
“Even in the face of the clearest scientific evidence that burning fossil fuels is literally setting the planet on fire, this sector continues to invest in the same old model and often misinforms society about the climate crisis and its causes,” said Packard. “In doing so, companies are actively disregarding the right of entire populations to a healthy environment, sufficient and quality food, and a political and social scenario of stability.”