(Reuters) — Activists sued two of France’s biggest corporations over fossil fuel financing and alleged human rights abuses on Thursday, as campaigners increasingly turn to lawsuits to push big companies to change their behavior.
Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and Notre Affaire à Tous argue BNP Paribas loans to oil and gas companies breach a legally binding duty in France to ensure its activities do not harm the environment.
Separately, the MENA rights group sued TotalEnergies 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, in which the energy major is the biggest shareholder with a 39.6% stake.
BNP Paribas said it regretted the advocacy groups’ choice of litigation over dialogue and that it could not stop all fossil-fuel financing right away.
TotalEnergies said it was a minority shareholder in Yemen LNG and did not control the company, which “thus situates it outside of the perimeter of (TotalEnergies’) vigilance plan,” but called the situation in the country “a source of concern.”
UAE authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The two lawsuits were filed before the Paris Court of Justice using a 2017 French law that places the onus on large French companies to identify and prevent risks to human rights and the environment that could occur as a result of their business activities.