Manila, 20 October 2017 – The Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines have called on 47 carbon producers to attend a preliminary meeting in its investigation into their corporate responsibility for climate-related human rights abuses (1). The companies include ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Total, BHP Billiton, Suncor, and ConocoPhillips.

This is the first opportunity for  the Filipino petitioners to  meet representatives of the fossil fuel companies face-to-face. Though carbon producers might choose to ignore the request for their attendance, the preliminary conference is set to take place on 11 December, in which the petitioners and companies need to discuss and agree evidence submission and witness testimonies.

“This is an unprecedented moment in the climate justice movement and especially for the thousands of typhoon survivors who are living with the impacts of climate change,” said Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia in the Philippines.

Filipino typhoon survivors, other communities suffering the impacts of climate change, and civil society organizations, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), initially petitioned the Commission for the investigation in 2015 (2), two years after super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) claimed the lives of more than 6,300 people and affected millions of others who have yet to recover (3).

The Commission has full authority, based on its mandate under the Philippine Constitution, to investigate human rights harms in the Philippines, including impacts resulting from the companies’ global activities (4). So far, the companies have been using ‘courtroom tactics’ in an effort to avoid public scrutiny of their business activities that are contributing to human rights harms (5). Failure to attend the 11 December preliminary meeting would be a reflection of its lack of commitment to its corporate responsibility.

“All the recent extreme weather events – from hurricanes in the US to monsoon flooding in South Asia – is not a coincidence. It’s the result of climate change,” said Llanos Dee. “A wave of climate justice cases are happening around the world, so while fossil fuel companies may try to run, they can’t hide. The science is clear: pollution from fossil fuel companies drives climate change, and this move by the Commission sends a strong signal around the world that those responsible for climate change will be held accountable.”

Despite knowing the severe risks posed by climate change for decades (6), the fossil fuel industry continues to drive climate change (7). The trend towards renewable energy is growing (8) and, with the Paris Agreement in force, a move towards an era free from fossil fuels is inevitable, along with a just transition for workers and communities affected by the industry’s downfall.

“The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, and the petitioners will not back down,” said AG Saño, visual artist, activist, and one of the petitioners who survived super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

“We urge the CEOs of these major carbon producers to fully participate in the investigation, publicise their plans for stopping their use of fossil fuels, and explain how they intend to eliminate, remedy, or prevent human rights harms from climate change. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. After all we want to thrive and not just survive.”

“Many homes were destroyed during Typhoon Yolanda and people died – including some I knew,” said Isagani Serrano, president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), an organisation that provides support in the aftermath of disasters. “We hope these CEOs look deep in their hearts and see how their profit harms people and the planet.”

AG Saño will continue his advocacy for climate justice by representing the Filipino petitioners at COP 23 in Bonn in November.


Notes for Editors:

1) The Climate Change and Human Rights Petition – see section V. Commission on Human Rights’ Notice for companies to attend preliminary conference of parties

2) 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.

3) The Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. 2015. Final Report re Effects of Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan).  

4) Sections 17-18, Article 13 of the Philippine Constitution. For further details see Petitioners´ Consolidated Reply

5) Corporate Responses and comments on the petition here.

6A) Center for International Environmental Law’s synthesis of knowledge  available to major carbon producers, and how individual companies could have reduced or mitigated the climate risks arising from their products, services, and business operations

6B) Amicus briefs submitted to the Philippines Commission on Human Rights

7) Ekwurzel, B., Boneham, J., Dalton, M.W. et al. The rise in global atmospheric CO2, surface temperature, and sea level from emissions traced to major carbon producers, Climatic Change (2017) 144: 579.

8) Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21).  Renewables 2017 Global Status Report

Photographs are available here

Media contacts

JP Agcaoili, Communications and Digital Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), email: [email protected], tel. +639498891334

Kristin Casper, Litigation Counsel, Climate Justice and Liability Project, Greenpeace Canada (based in Toronto, email: [email protected], tel. +1 (416) 889-6604

Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)