Philippines Commission on Human Rights finds fossil fuel companies have legal and moral responsibility to act on climate crisis 

Published: 11th December 2019


In response to the announcement by the Philippines Commission on Human Rights at the UN Climate Summit in Madrid, that big fossil fuels companies could be held legally liable for human rights violations arising from the climate crisis, Chema Vera Executive Director of Oxfam International said:

"This is an important milestone in the fight for climate justice by the millions of people, from the Philippines to Mozambique and Guatemala, who have lost their loved ones, homes and livelihoods to a climate emergency they did little to create.

“The writing is on the wall for the world's largest fossil fuel companies – they need to take responsibility for the damage they have caused and move into clean energy fast,” added Vera.

Notes to editors

The early findings and recommendations announced at a side-event at the UN Climate Summit chaired by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, represent the end of a four-year inquiry by the Philippines Human Rights Commission, in response to a 2015 petition brought by Filipino communities affected by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). The full report is due to be published by the end of the year.


The inquiry is the first of its kind to examine in-depth the contribution of the largest producers of fossil fuels (the so-called 'Carbon Majors') to climate-related human rights violations. The Commission found that, based on the evidence, Carbon Major companies could be found legally and morally liable for human rights violations arising from climate change. The Commission stated that cases can and should be brought to national courts to find remedies under national legal regimes - and where existing national laws are not adequate, the Commission recommended that governments have an obligation to implement legal reforms to ensure access to justice for affected communities.


Oxfam gave evidence to the inquiry, at a hearing in 2018, in support of the testimonies of Typhoon Haiyan survivors. Oxfam responded to Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, reaching half a million people, providing food, safe water and sanitation, as well as income-generating activities for people who had lost their means of earning a living.

Contact information

Kai Tabacek at the UN Climate Summit in Madrid: +44 7584 265 077 or

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