Climate and whistleblowing are defining terms of the 21st century. Both words conjure strong emotions and reactions: anxiety, uncertainty, creativity and hope. They have united people all over the world, especially among younger generations, to take action for a better future with more sustainability, honesty and justice. They have taught us that anyone can make a difference – and perhaps that everyone should get involved.
A new campaign is uniting these terms to utilize one to save the other. “Climate Whistleblowing” is now being introduced to citizens, the media, and environmental and anti-corruption activists everywhere. Perhaps most importantly, the campaign is reaching public officials who have the power – and the responsibility – to protect both the climate and whistleblowers.
This week the campaign contacted more than 200 key Parliament members in all 27 European Union countries who have direct supervision over environment and whistleblower policy. These are the elected officials overseeing the development of whistleblower laws that all EU countries must pass by the end of 2021 to comply with new EU regulations.
The two NGOs leading the campaign, the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) and Whistleblowing International, told parliamentarians:
“Many recent cases of climate whistleblowing clearly demonstrate that insiders are in the best position to know about and expose the full extent of wrongdoing. Employees have exposed many types of wrongdoing by fossil fuel and other companies, including tax evasion, bid-rigging, fraudulent accounting, falsified logging documents, and fraudulent technologies.”
“However, most employees remain silent because of the real fear of being fired, harassed, threatened or even physically attacked. It is not acceptable for people to be harmed for trying to save our planet from harm. Ensuring that people will be protected by a strong whistleblower law is the first step to embolden them to expose illegal activities that threaten the very existence of our habitable world.”
Many officials have responded with gratitude and support for the campaign. In one country, the Environment Ministry is now actively considering the campaign’s main proposals. In another, a public official thanked the campaign for telling him he mistakenly thought climate already was included in the country’s draft whistleblower law.
NWC Chair Stephen M. Kohn last month emphasized the critical role of citizens: “People have the most power to expose environmental crimes. But they need strong assurances they can report violations without losing their jobs and their careers. If any type of whistleblower needs and deserves first-class protections, it is the climate whistleblower.”
To learn more about climate whistleblowing, including case studies and information on how you can get involved, visit NWC’s Global Climate Whistleblower Center.