A government meet-and-greet to connect Australian industry with the world s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, has been criticised as akin to a joint trade show with a tobacco major Australia's international trade agency Austrade will host the event, Doing business with Aramco 2023 next Friday at the Duxton Hotel in Perth.
The event is pitched to companies in the oil and gas supply chain and petrochemical industries, and will include bilateral business matching meetings, where Australian exporters will have the chance to showcase their capabilities to Aramco. The forum will provide a platform for Australian exporters to gain first-hand knowledge of Aramco, its business opportunities, and the way to access those opportunities, the event description says.
Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, posted an $161 bn profit in March, the largest ever profit recorded by an oil and gas firm.
Aramco, which is owned by the Saudi Arabian government, is the most polluting oil company of all time, a recent analysis found that if oil companies were forced to pay reparations for their contribution to climate change, Aramco would owe $43 bn a year.
The Greens Senator Dorinda Cox, a Greens candidate, said the event showed the federal government had the wrong priorities.
Net zero is moving rapidly away from coal, oil and gas, not seeking out future partnerships with another petrostate, she said.
The Australian government should be spending money on the housing crisis, not funding the world's richest oil company and biggest polluter to network and mingle. Glenn Walker, Greenpeace Australia Pacific's head of advocacy and strategy, said Aramco's contributions to increasing the risk posed by climate change made it inappropriate for the Australian government to host the event.
Aramco, a fossil fuel company, is knowingly fuelling dangerous global heating. The Australian government should not be given a platform supported by this company, Walker said in a statement.
It is akin to a joint trade show with a tobacco major and should be rejected by the minister for trade. Austrade declined to respond to questions about concerns about the event, but said in a statement that the showcase will provide Australian energy sector firms with an opportunity to showcase their expertise and explore potential future business opportunities. Austrade is also committed to driving uptake of opportunities for exporters and investors linked to a net-zero emissions future, the agency said.
The IEA previously said that limiting global heating to 1.5 C as set out in the Paris agreement would mean that there could be no new oil, gas, or coal investment beyond 2021. The IPCC has also issued similar statements.
Reece Whitby, Western Australia's environmental and climate action minister, visited Saudi Arabia last year to address a meeting of the International Energy Forum.
He also met with the Saudi minister of foreign affairs and climate envoy, Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir.
A spokeswoman for WA's environment department said neither the minister nor the department had any role in arranging the Austrade event.
Sophie McNeill, a human rights watch Australia researcher, said the organisation had deep concerns about the Saudi government's track record of human rights, including executions, torture, the targeting and punishment of dissidents and critics, and the treatment of women.