No cases have been reported under this scenario in the Philippines.
In this jurisdiction, an individual can challenge a public actor for approving a project that allegedly does not comply with the law and lead to a rise in GHG emissions.
One of the most relevant pathways to demand environmental protection is through the constitutional right to a healthy environment. Article II (Section 16) of the Philippines Constitution provides that “[t]he State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accordance with the rhythm and harmony of nature”. In 2009, the Philippine Supreme Court crafted a set of procedural rules to facilitate the protection of the people’s constitutionally enshrined rights to life and a healthy environment: the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases. They govern procedures in civil and criminal cases in the first and second-level courts that involve alleged violations of environmental laws, rules, and regulations. Particularly notable is the introduction of the Writ of Kalikasan (Writ of Nature). Petitioners can apply for a Writ of Kalikasan to be issued when the alleged environmental damage is of such magnitude that it adversely affects the life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. It is a remedy available to a natural or juridical person, entity authorized by law, people’s organization, non-governmental organization, or any public interest group, on behalf of persons whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated or threatened by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity.
A second route to consider is judicial review. Courts must evaluate whether grave abuse of discretion has occurred in the governmental decision. Adjudication can commence only when the following conditions are present: (i) an actual and justiciable controversy exists (i.e. contestation between parties’ legal rights or direct adverse effect on the individual); (ii) petitioners have standing (i.e. they must be injured (or be in immediate danger of injury) as a result of the act); (iii) the issue of constitutionality is raised at the earliest opportunity; and (iv) it is necessary to the determination of the case itself.
A third route may be through the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system. Here, litigation may be promoted alleging that the public authority does not comply with its obligations under the EIA law. The EIA system is project-based and covers environmentally critical projects and projects located in environmentally critical areas. While EIA litigation is a common route for climate litigation in other jurisdictions, it can be argued that in the Philippines it is not prevalent because most issues are dealt with through discussions/negotiations between project proponent and EIA regulator.
For more country specific context and relevant national climate change law see: https://climate-laws.org/geographies/philippines
This country report has been produced by Elisa Granzotto, C2LI Research Assistant, Hayley-Bo Dorrian-Bak, C2LI Senior Research Assistant and Gastón Medici-Colombo, C2LI Legal Analyst with the collaboration of Jolene Lin, C2LI National Rapporteur for Philippines. The summary is based on Jolene Lin, “Climate Change and the Individual: Case Study of the Philippines” in F. Sindico and M. Moise Mbengue, Comparative Climate Change Litigation: Beyond the Usual Suspects, Springer, 2021.