Philippines

In re Greenpeace Southeast Asia et al., 2015-__ (Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, 2015)

Jurisdiction: Philippines


Side A: Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (Ngo)


Side B: Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (Government)


Core objectives:

Investigation into allegation that largest emitters have violated human rights of Filipinos by causing climate change and ocean acidification


Summary

Greenpeace Southeast Asia and numerous other organizations and individuals filed a petition asking the Commission to investigate a general issue—“the human rights implications of climate change and ocean acidification and the resulting rights violations in the Philippines”—and a more specific one—“whether the investor-owned Carbon Majors have breached their responsibilities to respect the rights of the Filipino people.” The core factual allegation of the petition draws on research identifying particular entities’ quantum of responsibility for anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions since 1751. The original petition names 50 of those entities, all publicly traded corporations, as respondents. It identifies multiple sources of human rights, but draws most heavily on the UN Human Rights Commission’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

During a conference held on December 11, 2017, the Commission accepted the petition and confirmed that they would investigate the potential human rights violations stemming from major fossil fuel companies’ contributions to climate change. The Commission announced it would hold fact-finding missions and public hearings in 2018. In March 2018, the Commission held its first public hearings to investigate the alleged responsibility of major fossil fuel companies or “carbon majors” for climate change and the potential impacts on the human rights of Filipinos.

On December 9, 2019, the Commission announced its finding that major fossil fuel companies could be held liable for climate change impacts. According to news reports, the Commission concluded that legal responsibility for climate damage is not covered by current international human rights law, but fossil fuel companies have a clear moral responsibility, and the onus falls on individual countries to pass strong legislation and establish legal liability in their courts. The Commission further found that that existing civil law in the Philippines provided grounds for action, and it may also be possible to hold companies criminally accountable “where they have been clearly proved to have engaged in acts of obstruction and willful obfuscation.” The Commission also concluded that major fossil fuel companies have an obligation to respect human rights as articulated by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The Human Rights Commission's final report will be posted when it becomes publicly available.
Case documents

from the Grantham Research Institute
from the Grantham Research Institute
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