French energy giant TotalEnergies faces demand to suspend future fossil fuel projects

AFP - [email protected]
French energy giant TotalEnergies faces demand to suspend future fossil fuel projects
TotalEnergies oil refinery in Donges, western France. Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP

A coalition of NGOs, joined by the city halls of New York and Paris, on Wednesday presented a demand at a court in the French capital that energy giant TotalEnergies should be ordered to suspend all new hydrocarbon projects worldwide.


The unprecedented demand seeks a court order as a temporary measure for a suspension ahead of giving a full ruling - not before 2024 or 2025 - on forcing the group to bring its strategy in line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

"TotalEnergies has been aware of the link between the climate crisis and its products for 50 years. We cannot leave them another few months or decades to align themselves, perhaps one day in the future, with the Paris agreement," said Sebastien Mabile, one of the coalition's lawyers.

"We are not asking for any sum of money, no seizure (of assets), only alignment measures... to save the habitability of the planet," he added.


Lawyer Denis Chemla, representing TotalEnergies, accused the coalition of seeking too "distort procedure", saying their arguments were not "aimed at the judge but at the press".

The judge is due to announce his decision on July 6th.

The coalition of NGOS began their campaign in 2020 and were joined by the city halls of Paris and New York in 2022, arguing that the firm was failing to take responsibility for the environmental impact of its activities.

The group insists it has constantly strengthened its climate strategy since its first plan in 2018 and plans to devote a third of its investments on low-carbon energies. But it remains dependent on oil and even more so in the future with gas its priority sector.

The coalition hopes to obtain a French equivalent to a case in 2021 when a court in the Netherlands ordered oil giant Shell to accelerate its plan to reduce greenhouse gases after a suit by NGOs. Shell appealed.

TotalEnergies and its chief executive Patrick Pouyanne have become a major target of climate protesters, who staged a noisy action outside the company's AGM last week.

"The climate is at the heart of our concerns," Pouyanne told the meeting, saying his group has done more than others to invest in renewables.

But as world oil demand is growing and "if TotalEnergies doesn't respond to this demand, others will do it for us".



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