Sunday, September 24, 2023

UN experts raise climate change concerns with Aramco oil company

UN rights experts have sent a letter of concern to Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco, saying its expansion of fossil fuel production and ongoing exploration threaten human rights, a document shows.

The company has previously announced it aims to achieve net zero emissions from its operations by 2050.

Addressing the firm’s CEO, Amin Nasser, the four individual experts and a working group expressed their “most serious concern regarding the adverse impacts on human rights caused by activities such as the exploitation of fossil fuels which contribute to climate change”, referring specifically to the firm’s activities.

The letter, dated June 26, is a rare example of the experts singling out a corporation’s climate change record. It does not detail the human rights effects but says that Saudi Aramco’s activities have negative impacts on the enjoyment of the right to a healthy environment which UN countries have recognised.

The letter also raises concerns that Saudi Aramco’s actions may contribute to undermining the 2015 Paris Agreement and international cooperation “in the face of the existential threat to human rights posed by climate change”.

It does not explain why Saudi Aramco, which pumps millions of barrels per day, is targeted rather than other oil majors. However, it does say that state-owned companies should have an “increased responsibility” to act in line with international standards.

So-called UN communications are not binding but are an important political tool for raising awareness about human rights problems. They are more often sent to states, than companies. Saudi Arabia has not yet responded to the letter, the UN website showed.

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