ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and 43 other heavily polluting multinationals have been summoned to appear at a hearing in a climate change case brought by the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights.
The hearing will take place on 11 December 2017, and will be the first opportunity for Filipinos bringing the case to meet the carbon-intensive fossil fuel companies face-to-face.
ClientEarth lawyer Sophie Marjanac, who submitted an amicus brief in the case, said: “This is a huge moment in the fight for climate accountability. These companies are the top polluters in the world. Their activities over the past 50 years and more have contributed to climate change, and made life increasingly dangerous for the 103 million people in the Philippines. The petitioners allege that the companies knew about the disastrous impact of their business, yet did nothing to mitigate it or protect people.
“If these carbon majors are found to have contributed to human rights violations, it would set an important new precedent.”
In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan battered the low-lying Philippines, killing over 6,300 people and affecting the homes and livelihoods of millions more. In 2015, survivors, communities affected by climate change and civil society groups like Greenpeace Southeast Asia asked the Human Rights Commission to investigate.
Under the Philippines Constitution, the Commission has the authority to scrutinise human rights abuses resulting from multinationals’ activities. The carbon majors are not obliged to attend the hearing, and have so far been trying to avoid participating in the investigation.
Greenpeace International said failure to attend the 11 December hearing “would be a reflection of [the companies’] lack of commitment to… corporate responsibility”.
ClientEarth’s amicus brief is intended to help the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, which recently had its annual budget cut from $17 million to just $25.
ClientEarth is co-hosting a COP 23 event on Human rights and climate change, focusing on the role of communities, activists, NGOs and human rights institutions. Sophie Marjanac will speak at the event, which will cover the efforts of the Philippines Commission on Human Rights, as well as other national and global human rights organisations.