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OSLO: Norway’s largest pension fund said Thursday it has divested from Saudi Aramco due to the oil giant’s lack of climate action and from 11 other Gulf companies over human rights concerns.

KLP, which manages over 700 billion kroner ($70 billion), said the exclusion amounted to $15 million.

The fund dropped 11 companies in the telecommunications and real estate sectors from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates “over unacceptably high human rights violations’ risks”. Saudi Aramco was blacklisted due to its ties to the Saudi state and for “contravening expectations over climate and energy transition plans”, the fund said.

“The overall rationale for these exclusions is that Gulf states remain characterised by authoritarian systems of government that restrict freedom of expression and political rights, including of critics and human rights activists,” Kiran Aziz, head of responsible investment at KLP, said in a statement. Aziz said the telecom companies were excluded because “the development of advanced technology, including AI, reinforces the ongoing risk of systematic surveillance and censorship”.

He said reforms have “not gone far enough” in the real estate sector, where African and Asian migrant workers have faced discrimination and human rights violations.

Saudi Aramco is 90 percent owned by Saudi Arabia and was excluded primarily due to its lack of an energy transition plan, the fund said.

“The company’s climate policy and lobbying efforts reflect the dominant owner’s active opposition to the phasing out of oil and gas as a climate mitigation measure,” it said in a statement.

KLP divested from Russian companies in 2022 following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In 2021, the fund excluded companies linked to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, including telecom equipment giant Motorola.

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