Shell to face pressure at AGM for failing to take responsibility for climate-related human rights harms

Press release - May 23, 2017
Amsterdam, 23 May 2017 - Today, Filipinos demanding climate justice from the companies responsible for fossil fuels that have contributed the significant share of global emissions of industrial CO2 and methane, (1) invited Royal Dutch Shell plc (Shell) to the Philippines to cooperate with an investigation into the responsibility of investor-owned carbon producers for climate-related human rights harms. Shell, and its subsidiary in the Philippines, the Shell Company of the Philippines Limited, are attempting to stop the investigation. (2)

At Shell’s annual general meeting in The Hague, AG Saño, one of the Filipinos who petitioned the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) to conduct the investigation, (3) hopes to address Shell CEO Ben van Beurden and ask him to attend all hearings and to present Shell’s plans for phasing out fossil fuels in order to prevent further human rights impacts resulting from climate change.

A prolific visual artist and activist known for his collaborative public murals that champion conservation, peace and human rights, AG Saño survived super-typhoon Haiyan (locally, “Yolanda”), which hit the Philippines in November 2013. His family initially feared he was among the casualties. AG helped carry bodies of those who lost their lives in the immediate aftermath. Today, he continues to use his art and his public messages to help him deal with his experiences and to raise awareness about climate change.  

AG Saño said, “Having escaped death myself, I get to live to tell the stories of those from one of the ground zeros of extreme weather events. These people risk losing everything - their families, their lives, and their way of life. People on the frontlines of climate change have everything to lose. What can Shell lose by showing up at the hearings?”

Typhoon survivors, community and civil society organisations and notable individuals, petitioned the Commission for the investigation in 2015, two years after Haiyan, which claimed thousands of lives and affected millions of others who have yet to recover. (4) Their aim is to prevent further human rights harms resulting from climate change being endured by Filipinos.

“Shell should demonstrate real leadership on climate change and human rights. Companies say a lot of good things on paper about reducing emissions and respecting human rights”, said Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice and Liability campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in the Philippines. “If they really mean it, they will show up and take part in the national public inquiry when hearings begin.”

Twenty-one companies have so far engaged to some degree with the Petition lodged before the Commission, including: Shell Company of the Philippines, Ltd. and Royal Dutch Shell plc. (5) Some have shared responses with the NGO Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC). (6) Only one company, Rio Tinto, seems to properly acknowledged the ‘fact-finding’ nature of the investigation. (7)

Despite knowing about the severe risks posed by climate change for decades, the fossil fuel industry continues to extract and sell oil, coal and gas, which, when used as directed, result in significant amounts of climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions. (8) In 1991, a film produced by Shell showed that the oil giant has long known about the catastrophic risks of climate change. (9)

The national inquiry is one of the many people-powered legal actions related to climate change that has been initiated around the globe by Indigenous Peoples in Canada, seniors in Switzerland, farmers from Peru and Pakistan, youth in Norway, Pakistan, Uganda, and the United States, and citizens in the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. (10) In each of these cases, people are using the power of the law, because governments and fossil fuel companies are failing to protect and to respect human rights. –ENDS-

Notes for Editors:

1)     Heede, R. 2014. Carbon Majors: Accounting for Carbon and Methane Emissions 1854-2010, Methods and Results Report, April 7, 2014. (first published in 2013 and subsequently updated in 2014), available at:  For more details on the Carbon Majors Updates, please see Climate Accountability Institute at See also Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Briefing Paper: Who is responsible for increasing the risks of climate change? updated on 14 February 2017.

2)     Royal Dutch Shell plc and its subsidiary, Shell Company of the Philippines Limited, submitted an answer to the Commission in the form of a “Motion to Dismiss Ex Abundanti Ad Cautelam.” Please see:

3)     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, 9 May 2016, available at: All of the documents relating to the investigation are available on Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s website. Please see:

4)     Local people have reported that Haiyan claimed more than 10,000 lives. The official total is 6,343 fatalities with 1,058 missing. Final Report on Effects of Typhoon "Yolanda" (Haiyan) (PDF) (Report). The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. December 11, 2015. Archived from the original on May 6, 2016, available at:

5)     In total, 21 companies responded either to the Petitioners and Commission (14 responses) or Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (11 responses). Four companies responded to the Petitioners, Commission, and Business and Human Rights Resource Centre.  For an overview of all responses, please see Annex A to the Consolidated Reply. BHRRC, an independent non-profit, is a well-established clearinghouse for information on business and human rights that is respected by companies, governments, civil society, media and investors. BHRRC invited forty-five (45) respondents to share responses submitted to the Honorable Commission in accordance with the 21 July 2016 CHR Order: Please see:

6)     Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Fossil fuel firms Respond to Petition before Philippines Human Rights Commission on Human Rights & Climate Impacts,

7)     Rio Tinto London Ltd, Letter Ad Cautelam and without submission to Jurisdiction, 10 October 2016, available at:

8)     See the opinion of the Center for International Environmental Law, available at:

9)     Shell “knew of climate change danger” since 1991 - Greenpeace press release - March 1, 2017 at

The film, titled Climate of Concern, was obtained by the Correspondent, a Dutch online journalism platform, and published in The Guardian’s article ‘Shell knew’: oil giant's 1991 film warned of climate change danger.

10)  For more information on the people-powered actions around the world, please see


Media Contacts:

Desiree Llanos Dee,
Climate Justice and Liability campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines) - currently in The Netherlands,
Email: l Tel. +639985959733

Zelda Soriano, Legal and Political Advisor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Email:  | Tel. +639175949424

Kristin Casper, Litigation Counsel, Climate Justice and Liability Project, Greenpeace Canada (based in Toronto).

Email:  | Tel. +1 (416) 889-6604

JP Agcaoili, Communications and Digital Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Phi
lippines). Email:  | Tel. +639498891334