Dialogue

Following Elsevier employee inquiries in 2021, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Scientists for Global Responsibility initiated a petition and dialogue in 2022, which also failed to secure a pledge from the company to end support for fossil fuel expansion. This resulted in the initiation of a UNGP grievance mechanism, bringing in the voices of more stakeholders potentially impacted by the company's actions, along with a complaint filed with the United Nations.

Grievance Mechanism

February 2024

With no answers provided to UCS and SGR's questions and over 150 partner organizations signed on, CRC sent this initial communication to RELX, requesting answers to  additional questions within 40 days. It contains an explanatory complaint submitted to the The Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Council, detailing the science-based reasoning for positing company negligence of UNGP human rights obligations and the company risking complicity in human rights harms.

FULL TEXTREPORT TO THE UN

KEY OBSERVATIONS:

• Elsevier/RELX oil and gas partners and customers are not reducing production in line with a just Net Zero Transition.

• Elsevier/RELX serves fossil fuels expansion in the knowledge that they are facilitating the continued burning of fossil fuels.

• Elsevier/RELX must comply with its own responsibilities regarding the fossil fuel industry’s climate-related human rights impacts. There is a serious risk that Elsevier/RELX is failing to comply with its responsibilities.

CRC letters to Elsevier leaders

CRC LETTERS:

Laura Hassink

Managing Director,
Elsevier Journals

LETTER

Rachel Martin

Elsevier Global Head of Sustainability

LETTER

Dr. Richard Horton

Editor-in-Chief,
The Lancet

LETTER

Dr. John Pham

Editor-in-Chief,
Cell

LETTER

Laura Hassink

Managing Director,
Elsevier Journals

LETTER

Rachel Martin

Elsevier Global Head of Sustainability

LETTER

Dr. Richard Horton

Editor-in-Chief,
The Lancet

LETTER

Dr. John Pham

Editor-in-Chief,
Cell

LETTER

Previous dialogue (UCS and SGR)

Elsevier has spent decades helping the fossil fuel industry accelerate discoveries. With the UN's Human Rights Council resolution 48/13 unequivocally recognizing the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all people, scientists initiated a dialogue about its continued engagement in this activity in light of the human rights implications.

These businesses are acting "contrary to the goals, obligations and commitments under the Paris Agreement on climate change...contributing to climate change-related human rights impacts, contrary to their own human rights responsibilities.”

—UN investigators, in a letter delivered to Aramco and various non-fossil fuel companies that are still facilitating new fossil fuel projects. June 23, 2023.

"I think Elsevier will still prioritize editorial freedom over ethical considerations."

—D., Elsevier journal editor, on introducing constraints on content based on human rights concerns. October 10, 2023.

  • October 2022 / SUMMARY

  • Union of Concerned Scientists and Scientists for Global Responsibility launch a scientist-driven petition regarding company support for fossil fuel expansion, activity inconsistent with a 1.5°C warming and a just transition.

  • FULL TEXT
  • April 2023 / SUMMARY

    April 2022 / SUMMARY

  • Márcia Balisciano, replying for the CEOs, provides a response that does not signal an end to this activity, or alignment with the IPCC and IEA's net zero pathways.

  • FULL TEXT
  • September 2023 / SUMMARY

  • Rebuttals refute the accuracy of company claims and inconsistency with RELX's Code of Ethics. 4 questions are submitted pertaining to ending support of fossil fuel expansion and misinformation.

  • FULL TEXT
  • October 2023 / SUMMARY

    October 2023 / SUMMARY

  • Márcia Balisciano, replying for the CEOs, again neglects to signal an end to activity associated with human rights harms.

  • FULL TEXT
  • November 2023 / SUMMARY

  • Given human rights concerns, UCS and SGR offer an extension for having their questions answered and announce the initiation of a UNGP grievance mechanism.

  • FULL TEXT

CRC letters to Elsevier leaders

CRC LETTERS:

Laura Hassink

Managing Director,
Elsevier Journals

LETTER

Rachel Martin

Elsevier Global Head of Sustainability

LETTER

Dr. Richard Horton

Editor-in-Chief,
The Lancet

LETTER

Dr. John Pham

Editor-in-Chief,
Cell

LETTER

Laura Hassink

Managing Director,
Elsevier Journals

LETTER

Rachel Martin

Elsevier Global Head of Sustainability

LETTER

Dr. Richard Horton

Editor-in-Chief,
The Lancet

LETTER

Dr. John Pham

Editor-in-Chief,
Cell

LETTER

What is a Grievance Mechanism?

RELX pledges to "consider the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights" in all [its] activities" and has committed to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security.” International human rights law requires an effective remedy where such rights or freedoms have been violated.

As noted in an IPCC special report, “climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth are projected to increase with global warming of 1.5°C and increase further with 2°C.” With RELX/Elsevier providing technological and geographic guidance for the fossil fuel industry majors to develop new resources that are misaligned with any safe warming target, Elsevier has notably not been adhering to its commitment to "discontinuing activities with potentially adverse climate change-related human rights impacts." It is the right of all stakeholders to seek remedy.