Rome, 12 April 2019

The PPT Advisory Opinion on the Session on Human Rights, Fracking and Climate Change

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On January 2018, the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) has been requested to formulate an Advisory Opinion on the activities included under the label of fracking and other unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, and on climate change, with respect to their impact on the fundamental rights of affected populations and on the rights of nature. The request had been promoted, formulated and signed by qualified representatives of academic groups and community organizations.

The document received by the PPT was the result of a long investigatory phase conducted over two years according to the terms of reference of the Statute of the PPT. The Session took place via a virtual platform (Zoom) on 14-18 May 2018. While a formal preliminary Statement was issued in the immediate follow up of the public session, this Advisory Opinion responds to the following questions:

  1. First, under what circumstances do fracking and other unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, along with their impacts on the climate system, breach substantive and procedural human rights protected by international law as a matter of treaty or custom?
  2. Second, under what circumstances do fracking and other unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques, along with their impacts on the climate system, warrant the issuance of either provisional measures, a judgment enjoining further activity, remediation relief, or damages for causing environmental harm?
  3. Third, what is the extent of responsibility and liability of States and non-state actors for violations of human rights and environmental and climate harm caused by these oil and gas extraction techniques?
  4. Fourth, what is the extent of responsibility and liability of States and non-state actors, both legal and moral, for violations of the rights of nature related to environmental and climate harm caused by these unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques?

 and attempts to do the following:

  • Show how fracking and other unconventional oil and gas extraction techniques are components of more general extractive strategies and policies.
  • Review the extensive documentation made available to this Tribunal.
  • Evaluate the evidence presented, using the doctrines developed by the PPT over its long history of considering similar or related cases.
  • Link this evidence with evolving cultural and juridical doctrine and discussion regarding the rights of peoples and of nature.
  • Justify the juridical terms of reference to be taken into account in assigning responsibility for the violations of the rights of individuals, communities, living contexts, and local and global environments.
  • Recommend steps to be adopted to counter the current state of impunity of corporations and states and to recognize properly the rights and dignity of affected subjects, who represent a wide spectrum of communities and environments.

In its conclusion, the PPT:

  1. Recognises the full responsibility of State and non-state actors for the commission of systematic violations of human, peoples, ecological, and nature rights as they are affirmed and sanctioned in the existing international law.
  2. Underlines the failure of existing international juridical system and documents to fully address the responsibilities of the same actors with respect to the spectrum of clearly documented violations of peoples and nature rights.
  3. Recognizes and congratulates those countries and sub-state jurisdictions that have banned fracking, and condemns those countries and sub-state jurisdictions that have revoked bans and moratoria on fracking.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal and the panel of judges of this Session on Human Rights, fracking and Climate Change congratulate Professor Tom Kerns, his organizing team, the many witnesses and experts who have presented their impressive evidences, for the enormous work they did in organizing this innovative Session of the PPT.