Brisbane 2032 President Andrew Liveris, left, has been criticised for sitting on the Board of Directors of Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company ©The Dow Chemical Company

Brisbane 2032 President Andrew Liveris has faced criticism for sitting on the Board of Directors at Saudi Aramco, the world's largest oil company, with climate campaigners claiming his leading role in the organisation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is "inappropriate" and "untenable".

But Liveris has defended his position on the Board of Directors of an energy company owned 95 per cent by the Saudi Arabian Government at the same time as heading an Organising Committee for an Olympic Games which has promised to be "climate positive".

It has been claimed that Saudi Aramco, which is valued at $2 trillion (£1.7 trillion/€2.1 trillion), has produced almost five per cent of all global emissions since 1965 and was on course to massively expand its oil and gas operations in the next decade.

Appearing at an event organised by the Queensland Media Club, Liveris claimed "climate positive is no good" without "the technologies or the pricing structures to close the loop on carbon".

"You’ll make all this a reality: hydrogen, batteries, solar; and you won’t have to subsidise it from your tax base, you let the market pay for it," The Guardian reported.

"That’s what I do, 

"I sit at tables where I learn what the better answer is, even if it is from the table like my previous life that emits, because if you emit you actually know the solutions."

State-owned Saudi Aramco is the world's largest oil company ©Saudi Aramco
State-owned Saudi Aramco is the world's largest oil company ©Saudi Aramco

Jason Lyddieth, a Brisbane-based clean energy and climate campaigner at the Australian Conservation Foundation, claimed having an Aramco Board member heading Brisbane 2032 was "completely inappropriate".

"This is meant to be a carbon positive Olympics," Lyddieth told The Guardian.

"It has been internationally promoted as that, and to have a person on the Organising Committee who is on the Board of one the most polluting companies in the world, is absolutely ridiculous."

Queensland Conservation Council’s director, Dave Copeman, admitted he was concerned about the influence of 68-year-old Liveris on the Games, given the businessman’s leading role in former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s proposed "gas-led recovery".

Copeman claimed the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, had demonstrated leadership in ushering in a "bright renewable future" by pledging to wean the state entirely off coal by 2037 and generate 80 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2035.

He added that he wanted Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brisbane to be "as ambitious as they can be for climate".

"We need reassurances that the old fashion thinking of fossil fuel industries won’t limit that," Copeman told The Guardian.

"It would be good to get that from the Premier and from Mr Liveris, at the very least, otherwise I think his position is untenable."

Palaszczuk, though, revealed that she has no plans to speak to Liveris about his role with Saudi Aramco, claiming his "other associations" were "matters for him".

"The Government’s objective is to host a memorable Olympic and Paralympic Games and for all of Queensland to share the pride as hosts," she said.

"All of the [International Olympic Committee’s] climate positive commitments will be observed."

Andrew Liveris, right, was appointed to a key business role by former US President Donald Trump, left, in 2016 ©Getty Images
Andrew Liveris, right, was appointed to a key business role by former US President Donald Trump, left, in 2016 ©Getty Images

Asked at the Queensland Media Club, if he felt comfortable working in a company predominately owned by a Government linked to human rights abuses, Liveris claimed he was helping the region’s economies and was not involved in its politics.

"There is an expression I have learned over the years: 'If you’re not at the table you’re on the menu,'" the University of Queensland graduate said.

"Frankly if I had a career making people comfortable, I wouldn’t be sitting here.

"You’ve gotta learn how to do the hard stuff even though it has some downside risks, that’s how you solve complexity."

Liveris was formerly chair and chief executive of The Dow Chemical Company, a sponsor of the IOC between 2010 and 2020.

Their links to Union Carbide Corporation, the company responsible for releasing toxins into the India city of Bhopal, killing 3,000 people almost instantly and the subsequent deaths of another 15,000, proved highly controversial.

Liveris has held a range of other business, Government and academic appointments in Australia and the United States.

He was chosen by former US President Donald Trump to head the American Manufacturing Council in 2016.