Mounting evidence in landmark human rights hearings in PH vs fossil fuel companies

Press release - May 23, 2018
Quezon City, Philippines, 23 May 2018 – Today marked the start of the second in a series of hearings in the Philippines into the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for human rights harms resulting from climate change. Over the course of two days, there will be a combination of testimonies from international legal experts, national government and local coastal community representatives, marine scientists, agriculturists and other experts.

The national inquiry launched by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines was triggered by a legal petition [1] filed in 2015 by 14 environmental, human rights, consumer welfare and people’s organizations, together with 18 individual farmers, fisherfolk, human rights advocates, typhoon survivors, artists and concerned citizens (petitioners).[2]

The world’s first-ever inquiry of its kind is expected to cover touchstone arguments [3] for the growing number of legal cases being brought forth by communities and local governments from around the world against the “carbon majors,” which include the biggest and most climate-polluting oil, gas, and coal companies. The petitioners are demanding that representatives of the companies participate in the public hearings and present their plans for phasing out fossil fuels in order to prevent future human rights harms resulting from the impacts of climate change.

“These companies have been profiting at the expense of people’s rights to life, food, shelter, clean water and sanitation, livelihood, self-determination and development, especially for those in poor and vulnerable communities. But this investigation is already changing the dynamics of climate change discussions and litigation, providing the communities a platform to confront the big polluters. It’s a crucial process that can have positive impacts worldwide,” said Desiree Llanos Dee, climate justice campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The investigation is expected to conclude at the end of the year, with a report and resolution issued in early 2019. The Commission could be the first legal body to issue a finding on the climate responsibility of fossil fuel companies, setting an important precedent in the Philippines and inspiring climate accountability efforts by vulnerable communities around the world.

This investigation is part of the growing global movement of people using the law to demand their rights to a stable climate and healthy environment are protected. The movement is strong and diverse, ranging from one thousand senior women in Switzerland; youth in the US, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal and Colombia; a citizens group in the Netherlands; to farmers from Peru and Pakistan. Fossil fuel companies and laggard governments are facing an increasing number of climate lawsuits around the world. Hundreds thousands of people are supporting these cases.

 

Overview of Testimonies for May 23, 2018

9:30 am - Mr. Carroll Muffet, President and CEO, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), on  CIEL’s Smoke and Fumes report.[4]

10:30 am - Mr. Pablo Rosales, Chairperson, Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahang Mangingisda (fisherfolk people’s organization), on how climate change is impacting lives and livelihood among fisherfolk;

Mr. Jonathan Delos Reyes, a small business operator who sources seafood directly from fishing communities, on how climate change is impacting local small businesses.

11:30 am - Dr. Mudjekeewis D. Santos, Scientist, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (NFRDI-BFAR) of the Philippines, on vulnerabilities of the fishing sector to climate change.

1:30 pm - Mr. Segfredo Serrano, Undersecretary for Policy and Planning, Department of Agriculture, on the impacts of climate change on the agriculture sector.

2:30 pm - Mr. Michael Addo, Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame; Member, United Nations’ Working Group on Business and Human Rights, on human rights responsibilities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.

 

Overview of Testimonies on May 24, 2018

9:30 am - Dr. Vincent Hilomen, Project Manager for Marine Key Biodiversity Areas, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, on the impacts of climate change on food security.

10:30 am - Mr. Manuel “Ka Noli” Abinales, a boat-maker and founder of people’s organization Buklod Tao, together with members Pablo Taon III and Francia Encinas, on the experiences and struggles of Marikina residents during Typhoon Ondoy in 2009 and how extreme weather events aggravate poverty and vulnerabilities for urban poor communities in the Philippines.

11:30 am - Atty. Efren Bascos, Chief Legal Counsel, Climate Change Commission, on climate change policies in the Philippines and the need to address the human rights implications of climate change.

-ENDS-

 

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Notes to Editors:

[1] Petition Requesting for Investigation of the Responsibility of the Carbon Majors for Human Rights Violations or Threats of Violations Resulting from the Impacts of Climate Change, December 2015: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/PageFiles/735291/Petitioners-and-Annexes/CC-HR-Petition.pdf 

[2] Relevant documents and additional information on the investigation can be found athttp://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/releases/Worlds-largest-carbon-producers-ordered-to-respond-to-allegations-of-human-rights--abuses-from-climate-change/The-Climate-Change-and-Human-Rights-Petition/

[3] In March 2018, leading experts published a Joint Summary of the Amicus Curiae Briefs submitted in support of Petitioners, Greenpeace Southeast Asia et al., presenting key findings and messages from 10 underlying amicus curiae briefs submitted to the Commission during the proceedings. The full statement and Joint Summary, including a complete list of the amici organizations and experts are available online at:http://www.ciel.org/philippines-joint-amicus/

The individual amicus briefs are available at:https://business-humanrights.org/en/amicus-briefs

[4] CIEL, Smoke and Fumes, November 2017:http://www.ciel.org/reports/smoke-and-fumes/

 

Photos and videos: Grace Duran-Cabus, Photo Desk, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, , +63 949 889 1335

 

Contacts:

Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines,

, +63 998 595 9733

 

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines, , +63 949 889 1334

 

Zelda Soriano, Legal & Political Advisor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia,

, +63 917 594 9424

 

Kristin Casper, Litigation Counsel for the global climate justice and liability project, based at Greenpeace Canada, , +1 (416) 889 6604