TotalEnergies Sues Greenpeace Over Climate Report

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – The past 12 months have seen sustainability organisations increase their use of the legal system to put pressure on climate laggards.  Major oil companies and even the UK government have been successfully challenged on their marketing claims or climate strategies.  On May 3, 2023 the tables were turned in France as TotalEnergies sued environmental non-governmental organisation (NGO) Greenpeace over the publication in November 2022 of a highly critical report on the French oil and gas company’s climate strategy (French language).

    Greenpeace claims that TotalEnergies has significantly understated its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  According to the NGO, there are important omissions in TotalEnergies’ reporting, which it describes as far less detailed than those of many of its competitors.  It cites the example of Shell, which provides a much more granular breakdown of its value chains and their associated emissions.  Greenpeace claims that when adjusting for relative volumes, TotalEnergies emissions appear greatly understated in comparison with Shell’s.  The NGO also points to the apparent contradiction between the French energy company’s net-zero claims and its investment in a range of new oil projects in Africa, Russia and South America.  Greenpeace also believes that TotalEnergies is basing too much of its climate strategy on carbon capture or offsetting schemes, while neglecting the impact of its Scope 3 emissions and the International Energy Association’s (IEA) call for no new fossil fuel projects.

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    Trouble brewing ahead of May AGM

    TotalEnergies is under pressure ahead of its annual general meeting (AGM), which is scheduled for May 26th.  Shareholder activist organisation Follow This has submitted a resolution to the meeting calling for the company to address its Scope 3 emissions and align its climate strategy with the goals of the Paris agreement in accordance with science-based methodologies.  The resolution has received support from institutional shareholders including La Banque Postale, Sycomore Asset Management and La Financière de l’Echiquier.  TotalEnergies has called on shareholders to reject the resolution, claiming that it goes against the company’s interests.

    TotalEnergies’ suit is founded on its belief that Greenpeace’s report is based on incorrect data, and it is claiming one Euro of symbolic damages along with the retraction of the report.  Greenpeace has stated that it sees this legal action as the equivalent of a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) intended to silence dissent ahead of the AGM later this month.  Could this attempt to turn the tables be a good sign that the big polluters are starting to feel the heat?  With the likes of Shell and KLM already having lost recent court battles TotalEnergies’ move could be seen as pretty desperate.





    Image courtesy of Sergei Tokmakov from Pixabay
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