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Quezon City, Philippines — Civil society groups and communities across the Philippines today hailed the pronouncement of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines that the world’s biggest polluting companies are responsible for human rights violations and threats arising from climate impacts.

The groups and community representatives who have gathered in a press conference in Quezon City to celebrate the CHR declaration are comprised of the petitioners to the CHR’s National Inquiry on Climate Change, civil society, youth and law groups working on rights and climate. The groups were reacting to the announcement of the CHR, represented by Commissioner Roberto Cadiz, in the morning of December 9 (evening in Manila), at the sidelines of COP 25, the UN climate talks ongoing in Madrid, Spain.

This is the first time ever that a human rights body has stated that fossil fuel companies can be found legally and morally liable for harms linked to climate change.

In its groundbreaking investigation, the CHR announced that the 47 investor-owned corporations, including Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Repsol, Sasol, and Total, could be found legally and morally liable for human rights harms to Filipinos resulting from climate change. The CHR also found the relevant criminal intent may exist to hold companies accountable under civil and criminal laws, in light of certain circumstances involving obstruction, willful obfuscation and climate denial.

The CHR has concluded that people affected by climate change and whose human rights have been dramatically harmed must have access to remedies and access to justice. Simply put, big polluters and other corporations have the responsibility to protect human rights as we face the climate emergency.

The petitioners believe this is a historic win for Filipino communities who are considered among the most vulnerable to the devastating impacts of the climate crisis. This also marks a victory for the global movement for climate justice as it will likely be a precedent for further legal actions demanding fossil fuel companies to put people’s rights over profit.  

CHR’s timely announcement came days after the release of the 15th edition of the Global Climate Risk Index, which showed there have been 495,000 fatalities directly linked to 12,000 extreme weather events worldwide in the past 20 years. 

Quotes:

Lea Guerrero, Country Director of Greenpeace Philippines: “The findings are a landmark victory for communities around the world who are at the frontlines of the climate emergency. This is the first ever finding of corporate responsibility for human rights harms resulting from the climate crisis. The outcome goes beyond the Philippines and can reach every single human being alive or yet to be born. However, this is only the beginning. We believe the findings provide very strong basis not just for future legal actions against big polluters, but also for citizens and communities to confront inaction by companies and governments in the streets and in the hallways of power.”

Liddy Nacpil, Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development: “It’s not just about the Philippines, but people in all countries of the world. We believe that the Resolution is extremely important in making our people more bold in challenging these organizations because this affirms the justice that we are waging. We believe that this is going to be a strong warning for corporations that they cannot keep on doing this with impunity because it violates the human rights of people everywhere.” 

Kath Culaba, Education Officer, Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa: “The Carbon Majors have consistently turned deaf ears to science and its warnings, perhaps now they will realize they can no longer burn the planet without serious consequences for their shareholders.”

Rose Trajano, Secretary General at Philippine Alliance of Human Rights: “Thousands of  Human Rights Defenders are heroes for climate care and hundreds were martyred to contribute to a future of a  healthy environment. All of us can be heroes for the next generation.

Marlon Palomo, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement: “Our country’s rural communities largely rely on and nurture our natural and ecological resources to produce, process, and distribute our food and water. Adopting the recommendations in our petition to hold the carbon majors accountable will protect the rights of farmers, fishers, and forest and watershed protectors to live decent lives and become effective stewards of our lands, forests, and waters for our own generation and for those to come after us. We call on the governments to break free from fossil fuels and make these corporations accountable for the damages they have done to our communities. It is our fundamental right and that of generations ahead of us to have a better and cleaner future.“ 

Derek Cabe, Nuclear-Free Bataan Movement: “We ask the CHR to stand with the people and their human rights. To have the courage to demand accountability from businesses that cause harm to people and the environment. Yes, businesses have their right to do business, but not at the expense of our rights.” 

Nityalila Saulo, DAKILA – Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism: “In the midst of a climate emergency, the resolution exhibits the Filipino’s spirit of “bayanihan,” or coming together, most especially for vulnerable communities not only in the Philippines, but also in the world. The resolution is a powerful tool to hold those most responsible for the climate crisis accountable. The outcome calls for more people to rise up for the climate revolution.” 

Aileen Lucero, Ecowaste Coalition: “The CHR resolution should embolden impacted communities to seek remedies in courts for the injustice caused by corporate global emissions that have primarily caused climate change. We urge the government to take up cudgels on behalf of the victims of climate injustice and hold corporate polluters accountable.  To the corporate greenhouse gas emitters, we ask you to go beyond short-term profitability and commit to drastic emission reductions, now.” 

Sonia Mendoza, Mother Earth Foundation: “We call on the fossil fuels industry to reduce their volume for plastic production and on the multinational corporations to use environmentally friendly materials for their products. We hold both industries accountable for environmental and climate injustice and for the unprecedented plastic pollution harming our oceans, land, and air, especially in developing nations. They have violated our right to a healthy and balanced ecology. We call on the governments to use the circular economy approach for a sustainable planet.” 

For more information, please contact:

Angeli Cantillana, Communications Campaigner, Greenpeace Philippines
+63 998 595 9733 or +63 925 805 0596
[email protected]