With an insignificant climate plan and an energy strategy closely linked with Russia, TotalEnergies is now the target of climate movements.
The general meeting of TotalEnergies began in an almost empty room, due to the blocking organized by NGOs who blame the climate hypocrisy of this French energy giant. The General Assembly meeting took place for the first time in two years, in person, in the Salle Pleyel, Paris (8th arrondissement). A little before 8 a.m., hundreds of activists from several NGOs gathered to block access to shareholders.
Chained together so as not to be evacuated, violent altercations then occurred between activists, shareholders and the police. I got the chance to speak with Ms. Dezaunay, press officer for TotalEnergies and when interviewed she said the group “denounces the violence that may have occurred, including shareholders”.
The activists’ motivations were clear: to denounce TotalEnergies’ “Eacop project” and their presence in Russia. This project is accused of being a real climate bomb for our future. It consists of the construction of an oil pipeline which will be located in Mozambique, Uganda, and Tanzania. According to International Energy Agency, this idea goes completely against the Paris agreements.
Despite these accusations, more than 80% of shareholders accepted the climate strategy of Patrick Pouyanné, the general manager of TotalEnergies. Mr. Pouyanné affirmed during his speech at the general meeting that this project would be of low-carbon intensity, and that it would ensure the maintenance of a good lifestyle for the local communities : “The project was designed and developed by a large number of scientific teams in order to protect the environment” (Translation from French).
For many these commitments would be a smokescreen, far from being representative of any real climate progress. GreenPeace claimed in a press release that more than 100,000 people were already directly or indirectly affected by this project. The extraction of oil in these regions will greatly threaten natural reserves but also lakes, which represent the primary source of water for the populations living in the surrounding areas.
The Eacop project was not the only source of activist discontent. With the ongoing war in Ukraine, many denounce the presence of TotalEnergies in Russia. TotalEnergies has been counted amongst many Russian companies’ shareholders since 2011, in order to develop liquefied natural gas projects. The activists present Wednesday, May 25th demanded the immediate withdrawal of the French energy giant within the Russian market.
Unfortunately, as Patrick Pouyanné points out, such a decision would jeopardize many French households, with an unprecedented increase in energy prices. Thus, it is a less radical strategy that the general manager of TotalEnergies wishes to adopt: “We have decided to initiate the gradual suspension of our activities in Russia”, he explains on the French television program BFMTV, a few days after the events in Paris took place.
This is certainly not the end of altercations since the project has been accepted by the shareholders. The threat of the Eacop project for our environment, according to many environmental NGOs, is too large to be ignored. TotalEnergies will continue to be the target of climate movements since its climate plan does not seem to fulfill the requirements of Paris agreement.