The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Landmark inquiry finds legal grounds to hold climate-destroying corporations accountable

Today, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) issued the final report [1] of its multi-year investigation into 47 investor-owned corporations for human rights harms that result from their actions triggering climate change.[2]

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Sano said in response:

QUEZON CITY, Philippines

Today, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHR) issued the final report [1] of its multi-year investigation into 47 investor-owned corporations for human rights harms that result from their actions triggering climate change.[2]

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Sano said in response:

"The findings of the Commission on Human Rights are a vindication for the millions of people whose fundamental rights are being impacted by the corporations behind the climate crisis. This report is historic and sets a solid legal basis for asserting that climate-destructive business activities by fossil fuel and cement companies contribute to human rights harms. The message is clear: these corporate behemoths cannot continue to transgress human rights and put profit before people and planet.

"The era where the fossil fuel industry and its backers can get away with and profit from their toxic practices is coming to an end. Impacted communities will continue to assert their rights, and demand justice. It's time to reclaim your power.

"We commend the CHR for its commitment to uphold climate justice; it sets a courageous example for other similar institutions and governments around the world. With the already profound threats of the climate emergency, countries like the Philippines must exercise moral leadership and champion a just transition and abandon the outmoded fossil fuel apparatus, in line with the Paris Agreement.

"Alongside our co-petitioners, we are calling on the incoming Philippine government and world leaders to adopt the Commission's findings and hold big polluters responsible for the climate-damaging impacts of their business activities. We expect the government to urgently act on these findings, and work on people-centered policies that will hold climate-polluting businesses accountable, prevent further harm, usher in the energy transition, and ensure a just, safe, sustainable and peaceful future for the people."

Major findings stated in the report include:

1. Carbon Majors' products contributed to 21.4% of global emissions (p. 99). The Carbon Majors had early awareness, notice, or knowledge of their products' adverse impacts on the environment and climate system, at the latest, in 1965. (pp. 101-104)

2. Carbon Majors, directly by themselves or indirectly through others, singly and/or through concerted action, engaged in wilful obfuscation of climate science, which has prejudiced the right of the public to make informed decisions about their products, concealing that their products posed significant harms to the environment and the climate system. (pp. 108-109)

3. In addition to liability anchored on acts of obfuscation of climate science, fossil-based companies may also be held to account by their shareholders for continued investments in oil explorations for largely speculative purposes. (p. 109)

4. All acts to obfuscate climate science and delay, derail, or obstruct this transition may be a basis for liability. At the very least, they are immoral (p. 115). Climate change denial and efforts to delay the global transition from fossil fuel dependence still persists. Obstructionist efforts are driven, not by ignorance, but by greed. Fossil fuel enterprises continue to fund the electoral campaigns of politicians, with the intention of slowing down the global movement towards clean, renewable energy. (p. 110)

5. The Carbon Majors have the corporate responsibility to undertake human rights due diligence and provide remediation (p. 110). Business enterprises, including their value chains, doing business in, or by some other reason within the jurisdiction of, the Philippines, may be compelled to undertake human rights due diligence and held accountable for failure to remediate human rights abuses arising from their business operations (pp. 113-114).


Quotes from other petitioners:

Von Hernandez 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize Awardee and Global Coordinator of Break Free From Plastic: "While long overdue, this report by the CHR provides supporting arguments for holding corporations accountable for their climate transgressions which impinge on the rights of citizens. As a petitioner, I feel the outcome of this process could have been much stronger and groundbreaking. It just means that our struggle for climate justice continues and we hope the next administration gives this issue the real importance it deserves."

Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator of EcoWaste Coalition: "EcoWaste Coalition stands with communities in calling for urgent climate action. The CHR findings should embolden impacted communities to seek remedies in courts for the injustice caused by corporate global emissions that have primarily caused climate change. We enjoin all Filipinos to stand up for climate and environmental justice, and ensure our elected officials in the next administration take this to heart."

Rafael Sarucam of Nagkakaisang Ugnayan ng Mga Magsasaka at Manggagawa sa Niyugan (NIUGAN): Kami po ay nagpapasalamat nang marami (sa CHR) sapagkat hindi nasayang yung aming petisyon dito. Kami pong mga magsasaka sa niyog ay nagkakaisa sa bagay na ito.

(We are very thankful to the CHR because our petition was not in vain. We, the coconut farmers, are one in supporting this.)

Atty. Grizelda "Gerthie" Mayo-Anda of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC): "This case is significant as it is the first case in the Philippines and in the world where human rights harms caused by carbon majors/fossil fuel-producing companies have been exacted/demanded by vulnerable communities and CSOs."

Derek Cabe of the Nuclear- and Coal-Free Bataan Movement: "Ang report ay hindi makakapag-resolve sa climate change, subalit isang hakbang ito para singilin ang responsibilidad ng mga korporasyon sa paglala ng krisis na nagdudulot ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao. It's now or never."

(This report will not resolve climate change, but this is one step toward holding corporations responsible for the worsening [climate] crisis, which leads to human rights violations. It's now or never.)

Beckie Malay of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM): "As one of the first petitioners to the CHR on the impacts of climate change on human rights and looking into the responsibility of the carbon majors for the damages they have historically brought forth to the environment, PRRM has long been awaiting the release of this report. Whilst it would have had greater impact for our advocacy to link human rights as a major pillar for the people's struggle to sustain life in these precarious times had the report been out much earlier, we nevertheless thank the CHR and Commissioner Totsie Cadiz for working on this. PRRM remembers its past President Gani Serrano who passed on with high hopes for fairness in a better world. PRRM's sustainable development programme and projects are entrenched in the principles of social, economic and environmental justice. We hope that this report helps us to move on with our communities of rural women in Alabat who have independently joined the petitioners, to highlight the adverse impacts of climate change on their lives and threaten their efforts for sustainable development. Let us not waiver in our efforts to hold the carbon majors accountable, as we all are in a huge climate crisis."

Greenpeace is a global, independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

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