Fracking causes harm and violates human rights – interim opinion of international tribunal

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A panel of judges at an internationally-recognised tribunal has concluded that governments and industry have failed in their obligations to protect the public from the impacts of fracking.

A preliminary statement issued by the Permanent People’s Tribunal session on fracking said the process contributed to climate change and involved “massive violations” of human rights. Preliminary statement of Permanent People’s Tribunal on fracking

The interim opinion said the industry “has failed to fulfil its legal and moral obligations” and governments have, in general, “failed in their responsibility to regulate the industry” to protect people communities and nature.

The tribunal hearings, all held online last month, considered heard evidence from individuals, experts and non-governmental organisations about the impact of fracking on the environment, people’s lives and on communities.

The interim opinion is not the court’s final judgment but it may indicate how the judges are thinking. The final advisory opinion on is expected in the autumn.

The statement, issued earlier this week, included the conclusion:

“The evidence we have considered is consistent internally, almost without exception. It is also consistent with the external evidence to which the Tribunal was referred, i.e.
the results reached, discussed and analysed in hundreds of independent reports and refereed research publications.

“The evidence clearly demonstrates that the processes of fracking contribute substantially to anthropogenic harm, including climate change and global warming, and involve massive violations of a range of substantive and procedural human rights and the rights of nature. Thus the industry has failed to fulfil its legal and moral obligations.

“The evidence also shows that governments have, in general, failed in their responsibility to regulate the industry so as to protect people, communities and nature.
In addition, they have failed to act promptly and effectively to the dangers of climate change that fracking represents.”

Permanent People’s Tribunals have no power to compel people to attend hearings, give evidence or to enforce a judgement. But the Bhopal tribunal led to the adoption of the Charter on Industrial Hazards and Human Rights.

Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor for the campaign group, Food and Water Europe, which contributed to the hearings, said today:

“The interim opinion of the Permanent People’s Tribunal judges finally confirms within a court of international importance that fracking and the industry and governments behind this global frenzy is a threat for us all”, says Andy Gheorghiu, policy advisor for Food & Water Europe.

“States and non-state actors are fully responsible and should be held fully liable for the – in view of the existing knowledge and evidence deliberate – conducted violations of human rights and the rights of nature related to environmental and climate harm caused by the so-called unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques.”

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