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UN Warns Big Banks Their Investments In Saudi Oil Company Could Violate Human Rights Laws

The United Nations (UN) warned several major banks Friday that their financing of Saudi Aramco may constitute a violation of global human rights rules because of the company’s role in climate change, Financial Times reported.

Human rights experts appointed by the UN notified several major institutions, including Citi, Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas that their financial relationships with the state-owned Saudi Arabian oil titan may make them complicit in its alleged human rights violations, which stem from its contributions to global climate change, Financial Times reported. The UN’s warning to the banks and Saudi Aramco is pursuant to a legal complaint filed in 2021 by ClientEarth, an environmental activism group, accusing Saudi Aramco of a substantial climate-related violation of global human rights rules.

Saudi Aramco is the largest oil company in the world, according to Financial Times. It is also considered to be responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than any other company on the planet.

“Far from having a plan to move towards net zero, Aramco continues to pursue fossil fuel production and even has plans to explore for and develop more reserves,” ClientEarth said in a Friday press release. “This means it will be knowingly worsening climate-related human rights impacts in Saudi Arabia and across the world.”

“By failing to address its role as the single biggest corporate emitter of greenhouse gases across the planet, Aramco is committing a huge violation of human rights law,” the press release adds. “People in every country, on every continent are affected by climate change, which is fuelled by Aramco’s actions.”

The warning notifications are not legal documents, but they may be cited in future litigation, according to Financial Times. Friday’s warning is the first time that the UN has directly pursued action against the fossil fuel industry and its financiers for their alleged contributions to climate change and the perceived human rights degradations that are associated with its effects.

The notifications caution the major banks that failing to take “reasonable steps” to minimize the impact of Saudi Aramco’s role in climate change may “be viewed as enabling the situation,” Financial Times reported.

“We consider any correspondence from the UN at the appropriate time,” a spokesperson for Goldman Sachs told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Money invested in American environmental, social and governance (ESG)-sensitive investment funds inadvertently found its way into the coffers of Saudi Aramco, Bloomberg News reported in July. Saudi Aramco utilized a web of subsidiaries to raise a combined $28 billion to finance major pipeline construction projects, with some of the financing coming from bonds issued by subsidiaries of western investment consortiums led by BlackRock and other Western financial institutions.

Representatives for the UN, BNP Paribas and Saudi Aramco all did not respond immediately to requests for comment. Citi could not be reached for comment.

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