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18 May 2016

Eniko Horvath, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Blog: Are renewable energy companies ready to respect human rights?

Now is the time to secure a fast and fair transition to a low-carbon economy by ensuring renewable energy does not compromise the lives and rights of local communities.

Berta Cáceres's death serves as a warning to ensure that our well-intentioned drive for renewable energy does not come at the cost of lives and livelihoods of communities affected by new energy projects. Wind and hydropower projects from Mexico to Kenya have been linked to alleged abuses related to land rights, impacts on livelihoods, and indigenous peoples rights, among other concerns. Whilst the Paris climate agreement underlines the need to safeguard human rights as we combat climate change, many renewable energy projects are promoted as climate solutions with little attention paid to human rights...Last month, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre contacted 35 companies in the wind and hydropower sectors to ask them about their approach to human rights. The responses show that most companies have the basics in place: overall, two thirds have human rights policy commitments. However, only half of the companies referred to international standards in their human rights policies...Similarly, two thirds of companies have some commitment to consulting with local communities affected by their projects. However, only three (Engie, Lake Turkana Wind Power and Vestas) commit to the internationally recognised standard to ensure indigenous peoples' rights are fully respected in their consultation process: free, prior and informed consent...Half of the wind power companies we contacted do not disclose information on their community engagement policies and practices...Even when commitments are in place, the extent to which they are implemented remains contested...[Subscribe for free to read the full article]