Latest news & media coverage

Below is a compilation of the latest news and media coverage of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights' investigation of 47 fossil fuel companies' contribution to climate & human rights impacts.

(Dec 2016 press conference by Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines)

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Article
14 December 2017

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines continues climate change inquiry despite company questions re jurisdiction

Author: Hannah Fernandez, Eco-business

"Companies in climate probe could lose investors: Philippine Human Rights Commission," 14 Dec 2017

[Roberto Cadiz, Commissioner with]...the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) of the Philippines warned... that companies who do not participate proactively in an ongoing investigation about their role in contributing to climate change stand to lose their investors... Filipino typhoon survivors, other communities suffering the impacts of climate change, and civil society organisations... petitioned the Commission to investigate the role that  47 [fossil fuel] companies played in contributing to natural disasters... In response to the petition, The CHR in October this year sent notices to the companies... requesting them to attend the 11 December meeting to discuss how the investigation will be conducted, and submit evidence and the names of supporting witnesses... Only two legal representatives from cement giant CEMEX appeared at the CHR headquarters, along with 10 other respondents, all of whom filed submissions questioning the jurisdiction of the commission...

Cadiz maintained that although the CHR of the Philippines has no territorial jurisdiction over the companies and cannot compel them to appear before the commission, it will still proceed with the enquiry.... “If we do come up with... recommendations that seem averse to companies, then they will only have themselves to blame, for not showing up, for not joining this dialogue,” he added...

In a statement sent to Eco-Business responding to the petition, Shell reiterated that its support for climate change is well-known and has been documented in its sustainability reports for the past two decades. “Whilst Shell has great respect for the Philippine Commission on Human Rights, we do not believe this is the right forum to address the issues raised here, which fall outside the organisation’s mandate. Climate change is a global, societal challenge that should be addressed through sound government policy that stimulates low-carbon choices for businesses and consumers,” the statement read.

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Article
12 December 2017

CHR sets 2019 target for results of landmark rights-based climate change probe

Author: Nicole-Anne C. Lagrimas, GMA Network

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is targeting to release during the first quarter of 2019 its resolution on a landmark national inquiry into the alleged contribution of private “carbon majors” to climate change and its supposedly rights-threatening impact to Filipinos. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, CHR Commissioner Roberto Cadiz, who chairs the inquiry, said the body should by that time be able to produce recommendations for local and international agencies out of the evidence to be presented by the petitioners and possibly by the respondents — of the 47 multinational corporations, only around 8 of which operate in the Philippines — in hearings in and outside of the country that are scheduled for 2018... The resolution will contain both Philippine-specific and general recommendations, as well as a “model law” to address climate change that can be suggested globally, said Cadiz, though he remarked that it was, at the moment, “hard to anticipate all the possible outputs” of the inquiry...

Site visitations and fact-finding missions will be held in Cagayan De Oro, Bukidnon, and Cagayan Valley, while investigations and community dialogues will be held in Albay, Quezon and Batangas. Hearings will be held in the Philippines and possibly in North America and Europe... [The] announcement came a day after a conference of the parties involved, which laid the groundwork for the expedition of the national inquiry, said to be the first to investigate climate change through a rights-based approach...

The commissioner said the inquiry aims to determine whether or not climate change impacts human rights, whether carbon majors are responsible for such, and if they do, “what can or should be done about it.”... [While the Commission]... cannot award damages in the event of an attribution of fault, the results of the inquiry “can be relied on as a foundation for filing cases for punitive damages later on,” [Cadiz] also said...Twelve of these companies have responded to the inquiry by submitting motions to dismiss or ad cautelam comments, allegedly claiming the CHR has no territorial jurisdiction over the case. But Cadiz said the inquiry would push through despite this, adding that the Commission was acting out of its “mandate” to hear a petition of alleged human rights violations.

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Article
12 December 2017

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines holds preliminary meeting regarding possible contributions of carbon majors to climate change

Author: Republic of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights

"CHR holds conference with the parties," 12 December 2017

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) called on the petitioners and respondents for a conference on Monday, December 11, for its ongoing landmark national inquiry meant to examine the possible contribution of carbon majors on climate change and its effects on the human rights of the Filipinos...The petition, supported mostly by farmers, human rights groups, and concerned citizens, was filed after a spate of natural disasters such as Super Typhoon Yolanda, internationally known as Typhoon Haiyan, visited the Philippines.

The conference officially set the groundwork for the first formal inquiry hearing to be conducted at the end of the first quarter of next year, 2018. “The Commission accepted the petition, in accordance with our general mandate to uphold the human rights of all Filipinos and, towards this end, to investigate and monitor all matters concerning the human rights of the Filipino people,” Commissioner Cadiz explained.

Prior to the parties’ conference, the Commission has already conducted fact-finding missions in Tacloban City, Leyte and Libon, Albay. The Commission shall conduct more of these fact-finding missions and community dialogues until the first half of 2018.

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Article
11 December 2017

World’s first human rights investigation into corporate responsibility for climate change intensifies

Author: Greenpeace

The world’s first ever national inquiry into the responsibility of the fossil fuel industry for the human rights impacts resulting from climate change hits and important milestone in the Philippines on 11 December - one day after Human Rights Day (10 December). Companies, including ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Suncor and Repsol, are being asked to explain their role in making climate change worse. The investigating body, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, sent Notices in October requesting the companies to attend the 11 December meeting to discuss and agree on how the investigation will be conducted, as well as evidence submission and witnesses.
 
... Filipino typhoon survivors, other communities suffering the impacts of climate change, and civil society organisations, including Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines), petitioned the Commission for the investigation in 2015, 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.  
 
... The Philippines national inquiry is one of a wave of people-powered legal actions taking place around the world. Greenpeace Nordic and Nature and Youth in Norway, young people in the US, senior women in Switzerland, a Peruvian farmer in Germany, a law student in New Zealand, and many others, are taking legal action to seek protection from climate change. 

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Article
22 October 2017

Philippines: Commission on Human Rights sets preliminary conference on 11 December for case against 47 carbon producers

Author: Greenpeace

"ExxonMobil, Shell among companies told to attend human rights investigation over climate change", 20 October 2017

The Commission on Human Rights...have called on 47 carbon producers to attend a preliminary meeting in its investigation into their corporate responsibility for climate-related human rights abuses. 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.

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... Failure to attend the 11 December preliminary meeting would be a reflection of its lack of commitment to its corporate responsibility.

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Article
8 October 2017

Philippines climate case could find that fossil fuel companies violate human rights

Author: Ucilia Wang, Climate Liability News

The Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights is investigating whether the collective contribution to global warming by 47 coal, cement, oil and gas companies has violated Filipinos’ basic rights to life, water, food, sanitation, adequate housing and self-determination. The companies include some of the world’s biggest fossil fuel producers, such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, Rio Tinto and Total. Petitioners asked the commission to investigate these companies because these businesses are part of the 90 firms that have been identified in research as being responsible for nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions since the start of the industrial age...meaning these companies are also responsible for the increasing number of devastating natural disasters, including typhoon Haiyan that killed more than 6,300 people in the country in 2013, the petitioners said...

The commission plans to hold a pre-hearing conference with both sides in December and start public hearings in the first quarter of next year, said Commissioner Roberto Cadiz, who is leading the investigation... So far, 17 companies named in the petition have filed written responses with the commission. They mostly disputed the authority of the commission to investigate them because they don’t operate in the Philippines, or they argued that climate change isn’t a human rights issue under domestic or international law... [A spokesperson for] Anglo American said while the company is committed to addressing climate change, it doesn’t believe the Philippines’ case has merit.

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Article
15 February 2017

Typhoon survivors & civil society call on 47 "carbon majors" to collaborate with Philippines Human Rights Commission's inquiry into their responsibility for climate & human rights impacts

Author: Greenpeace Southeast Asia

"Petitioners’ consolidated reply to the respondent Carbon Majors in the National Public Inquiry being conducted by Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines", 14 Feb 2017

Today, Filipinos demanding climate justice filed their response to corporate efforts to shut down the first-ever national inquiry into the responsibility of the fossil fuel industry and others for the human rights impacts resulting from climate change. The Petitioners requested the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, the authority leading the investigation, to deny the companies’ demands for a dismissal...With this reply, the petitioners are challenging CEOs of the largest carbon producers to be a part of the solution by fully participating in the national inquiry...“Petitioners request the representatives of the companies to attend the public hearings and present their plans for phasing out fossil fuels in order to prevent future human rights harms resulting from the impacts of climate change,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and petitioner...Twenty-one companies have so far responded to the Petition, either to the Commission, the petitioners or, informally, to the NGO Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC), including: ExxonMobil Petroleum & Chemical Holdings, Inc. Philippine Branch, Shell Company of the Philippines, Ltd., and Royal Dutch Shell plc. Only one company, Rio Tinto, properly acknowledged the ‘fact-finding’ nature of the investigation...

Full reply

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Article
8 December 2016

Press release by Greenpeace Philippines

Author: Greenpeace Philippines

"First national human rights investigation into climate change impacts proceeds despite opposition from fossil fuel companies," 8 Dec 2016

The Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) today initiated the next steps in the…national investigation into human rights harms resulting from climate change…A legal petition…triggered the national inquiry. The petition implicates 47…carbon producers including Chevron, ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Total, BHP Billiton, Suncor, and ConocoPhillips. The CHR announced that it will start holding public hearings from April 2017, which will be webcast…Commissioner Cadiz, who is leading the national inquiry, acknowledged that some 20 companies have responded…Petitioners welcomed the CHR’s announcement as indicative of its continued commitment to proceed with the unprecedented investigation…In July, the CHR requested…companies to comment on…the human rights allegations made in the petition…Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the companies to share their responses. Only 11 companies volunteered their positions, with some challenging the investigation…“…Today, we got much closer to our aspiration of holding those most responsible for the climate crisis accountable, in order to prevent further harm,” said Yeb Sano, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia…

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Article
31 October 2016

Philippines: Company responses to Commission on Human Rights petition fail to address fossil fuel companies' responsibility for climate change impacts on human rights

Author: Megan Darby, Climate Home

"Carbon majors respond to climate and human rights inquiry," 27 Oct 2016

Have fossil fuel companies abused human rights by causing climate change? That is the charge the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines put to 47 coal, oil and gas majors…based on a petition by Greenpeace and other NGOs…Nine submissions voluntarily shared with…Business & Human Rights Resource Centre give a flavour of the industry arguments…Rio Tinto urged cooperation…Anglo American and Conoco Phillips simply rejected the Commission’s jurisdiction…Eni talked up its 100% score for disclosure of climate risk on the 2015 CDP leaderboard…Glencore went on the counterattack, arguing that everyone had a right to energy…BHP Billiton acknowledged that climate change potentially brought human rights impacts…But it added the petitioners were asking the Commission to go beyond its powers when it came to…demanding remedies…Zelda Soriano, legal adviser to Greenpeace Southeast Asia, told Climate Home…“…all the responses fail to address…the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for the disastrous consequences climate change has on the lives and livelihoods of Filipinos,”…The Commission is expected to hold public hearings and gather more evidence before publishing its conclusions.

[Also refers to BP, Freeport-McMoRan, and Peabody Energy.]

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Article
29 July 2016

World's largest carbon producers face landmark human rights case

Author: John Vidal, Guardian (UK)

27 Jul 2016

The world’s largest oil, coal, cement and mining companies have been given 45 days to respond to a complaint that their greenhouse gas emissions have violated the human rights of millions of people living in the Phillippines. In a potential landmark legal case, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR), a constitutional body with the power to investigate human rights violations, has sent 47 “carbon majors” including Shell, BP, Chevron, BHP Billiton and Anglo American, a 60-page document accusing them of breaching people’s fundamental rights to “life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination”...The complaint argues that the 47 companies should be held accountable for the effects of their greenhouse gas emissions in the Philippines and demands that they explain how human rights violations resulting from climate change will be “eliminated, remedied and prevented”...The full legal investigation is now expected to start in October after the 47 companies have responded. Although all 47 will be ordered to attend public hearings, the CHR can only force those 10 with offices in the Philippines to appear...

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