Manila, Philippines, 11 December 2018. – A day after International Human Rights Day, the landmark investigation looking into the responsibility of 47 coal, oil, gas and cement companies for human rights violations suffered by the Filipino people, is back home in the Philippines to conclude in a two-day hearing with more testimonies from human rights advocates and from the climate frontlines.  The last two of five hearings were conducted in New York and London with international scientific and, legal experts, and Filipino survivors of various extreme weather events from the U.S., the U.K. and the Philippines, such as Haiyan, Mangkhut, Ondoy and Katrina.

If successful, the inquiry could result in the first legal finding of corporate responsibility for human rights violations in the age of the climate crisis. Greenpeace South-East Asia, Amnesty International, Oxfam International, and typhoon survivors are among the witnesses who will testify at the sixth and final hearings, which take place on 11-12 December, a day after the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[1]

“As a lifelong human rights and social justice campaigner, it is clear to me that you cannot talk about the climate change crisis without recognizing that it is also an inequality and discrimination issue,” said Kumi Naidoo Secretary General of Amnesty International, who will be speaking at the hearing. “While this is the final chapter in the investigation, it is the beginning of a new global movement of communities demanding protection of their human rights from the climate crisis and accountability of those responsible for it.”

ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Total, BHP Billiton and Suncor are among the 47 carbon majors that are being investigated by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines. The national inquiry is the world’s first human rights investigation into corporate responsibility for climate change.

Since the filing of the petition in 2015 and five public inquiry hearings held throughout this year, all of the companies have so far failed to show up and meaningfully participate. Initially, the companies fought to get the investigation dismissed, but the communities prevailed after the Commission determined in December 2017 that it had the authority to conduct the inquiry.

“This investigation is becoming a depository of evidence on fossil fuel denial and deceit. Thousands of pages of statements and evidence are now on the record, and the public will be able to see why we are facing worsening heat waves, wildfires, floods, droughts, and storms. More importantly, who are primarily responsible,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and a petitioner who will also testify at the hearing.

“The refusal by these carbon majors to appear at any of the public hearings is yet another example of a breach in these companies’ corporate responsibility and respect for human rights.”

2018 has been a landmark year in global climate litigation. Impacted people and U.S. cities, counties, and two states are seeking to hold oil, gas, and coal companies accountable over climate change. Recently, the Pacific island nation, Vanuatu, announced it is looking into options to sue the world’s most polluting fossil fuel corporations and countries facilitating the industry for their roles in creating catastrophic climate change.

The public hearings serve as a platform for communities on the frontlines of climate impacts to share their stories of the harms they are suffering, the risks they face, and why they are seeking climate justice.[3]

“The storm changed our lives. I lost my parents and two brothers, and had to support myself and my siblings who survived through it. I speak not only to share my story, but also on behalf of vulnerable communities who experience the tremendous losses that we suffer through storms like Sendong,” said Honeylyn Gonzales, survivor of 2011’s Typhoon Washi (Filipino name Sendong), which caused more than 1,000 casualties.

The final hearing also takes place during the mid-way point of COP 24 and less than two months after the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) delivered an alarming assessment on the massive and urgent task needed to limit global warming.

The petitioners anticipate that the Commission will issue a report and resolution in mid-2019.[4]

ENDS

Photos and videos can be accessed at the Greenpeace Media Library: media.greenpeace.org/ https://bit.ly/2L5SvEQ

Notes:

[1] The hearings will take place at the Session Hall, 2nd Floor, Commission on Human Rights, University of the Philippines-Diliman Complex, Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

[2] Other cases include: the historic Urgenda victory in the Netherlands; an action brought by Greenpeace Germany and three farming families; Greenpeace Poland‘s announcement of its intention to sue Europe’s second largest coal utility over climate change; and Quebec’s new youth lawsuit against the Canadian government.

See Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment database and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law’s databases for an overview of cases

[3] Greenpeace South-East Asia has launched Holding your Government Accountable for Climate Change: A People’s Guide,as an overview of what steps to take when bringing your government to court over its climate inaction.

[4] The petitioners hope that the Commission will issue precedent-setting actions in its final report and resolution, including the following recommendations:

  1. The establishment of clear mechanisms and processes for redressing human rights victims resulting from climate change;
  2. The establishment of standards for corporate reporting on activities involving carbon emissions;
  3. Clarification and confirmation of the rights connected with climate justice under regional and international human rights law; and
  4. The development of a model statute on legal remedies for climate change.

 

Contacts:

Desiree Llanos Dee, Climate Justice Campaigner, desiree.llanosdee@greenpeace.org, +639985959733

JP Agcaoili, Communications Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines, jp.agcaoili@greenpeace.org, +63 949 889 1334

Greenpeace International Press Desk, +31 (0)20 718 2470 (available 24 hours), pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org