The Philippines Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has sent a 65-page complaint to about 47 different energy and mining giants, accusing them of contributing to climate change and thus violating the fundamental rights of Filipino citizens. Grievances listed include violation of the rights to "life, food, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and to self determination." The document demands that the corporations respond within 45 days with formal plans to either eliminate or lessen their carbon footprints. Major companies listed in the dispatch include Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and BHP Billiton. Both human rights and environmental organizations are calling this a "landmark case."
The CHR's complaint arose out of a petition filed in 2015 by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, backed by 13 other organizations and several Filipino citizens. The petition, which gained over 100,000 signatures, requested the CHR to notify listed companies of their transgressions, request remedial plans from these companies, and recommend the government create a human rights mechanism to help climate change victims. After an investigation, the CHR accepted the petition and pursued further measures. This marks the first time that a government agency has taken action on a request to hold energy companies responsible for the consequences of climate change. Some of these companies do not work directly in the Philippines; however, the report seeks to hold account for the biggest contributors to carbon emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution. This could be tremendous for future policy in the fight against climate change. Holding companies directly responsible may affect how other nations perceive the causes of climate change.
The Philippines is one of the countries hardest affected by climate change; powerful storms and droughts in recent years have caused much death and destruction in the country. Thus, the CHR's action is monumental for affected Filipino citizens. Further legal action is expected after all the companies respond, and hearings could potentially start in October. The outcome could fit a whole new frame on the ethics of carbon emissions and the responsibility of fossil fuel companies in the climate change debate.