(Reuters) — Activists sued two of France’s biggest companies over fossil fuel financing and alleged human rights abuses on Thursday, as activists increasingly turn to lawsuits to push big companies to change their behavior.
Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and Notre Affaire à Tous claim that BNP Paribas loans to oil and gas companies violate a legally binding obligation in France to ensure that its operations do not harm the environment.
Separately, MENA rights group TotalEnergies sued on behalf of two people who say they were subjected to detention and torture by UAE forces at the Balhaf gas liquefaction plant operated by Yemen LNG, where the energy major is the largest shareholder with a 39.6% stake. .
BNP Paribas said it regretted the opinion groups̵7; choice of litigation over dialogue and that it could not stop all fossil fuel financing outright.
TotalEnergies said it was a minority shareholder in Yemen LNG and did not control the company, which “thereby places it outside the perimeter of (TotalEnergie’s) vigilance plan,” but called the situation in the country “a source of concern.”
Authorities in the United Arab Emirates did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The two lawsuits were filed in the Paris court under a 2017 French law that places the responsibility on large French companies to identify and prevent risks to human rights and the environment that may arise as a result of their business activities.