Le Monde — A group of 188 scientists and experts condemn the ‘carbon bomb’ represented by the French multinational’s oil pipeline project in Uganda.
The current policy trajectory takes us to a global warming of 3.2°C relative to the pre-industrial era by 2100 (GIEC, “climate change 2022”). For a global warming of more than 1.5°C, many human and natural systems will face severe risks with partly irreversible impacts and increased damage. However, as the last IPCC Group III report underlined, the emissions linked to existing and currently planned fossil infrastructures already exceed the cumulative net emissions of the scenarios allowing us to limit warming to 1.5°C. In this context, as the International Energy Agency (IEA) reminded us in 2021, no more new fossil projects have a place to reach zero net emissions in 2050 ( and only a drastic, immediate and sustainable reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (between 40% to 70% by 2050), would result in a slowdown of global warming.
Yet the French multinational TotalEnergies and other oil majors continue to develop new oil and gas projects (“carbon bombs”) around the world. TotalEnergies, which presents itself as a company committed to the energy transition, is the international oil firm that has approved the most new oil and gas projects in 2022. Each of these projects takes us a little further away from a world with a decarbonized economy. […]
In the face of much criticism, TotalEnergies defends the idea that it is simply “meeting demand” by developing its oil and gas projects. As a group of scientists has pointed out, this argument, which is one of the 12 “discourses of climate delay,” is fallacious in several respects. First, it deliberately fails to distinguish between demand and need. Today’s energy demand is by no means solely driven by need; witness the debates over private jets. Second, producers have always sought and still seek to steer future energy demand towards fossil fuels; the latest example being the record number of fossil fuel industry lobbyists at COP27 and the lack of mention of a planned exit from fossil fuels in the final text. We can and must collectively redefine our needs, especially the richest and northern countries, and thus reduce the demand for fossil fuels.
At the same time, we can and must organize a planned exit from fossil fuels and orient future demand towards decarbonized energies as much as possible. According to the head of the IEA, if we reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, “existing oil and gas fields and coal mines will be more than sufficient to meet the growth in demand.
We, scientists and experts from all walks of life, call on TotalEnergies’ shareholders to vote against the “Say on Climate” (i.e. against the climate strategy) that the company will propose at its next General Meeting and to demand that the company abandon the EACOP and its other fossil projects. TotalEnergies’ main French shareholder Amundi, the asset manager of Crédit Agricole, as well as BNP’s asset manager (BNP Paribas Asset Management) and its main international shareholders (Norges Bank, Vanguard Group and BlackRock), have the power and the duty to oppose the development of new fossil projects by the multinational. They cannot approve a strategy that foresees the development of projects that are as environmentally dangerous as they are financially risky, and must use their power to accelerate the energy transition.
Some minority shareholders have already announced that they are filing an advisory resolution calling on TotalEnergies to align its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, including scope 3 (indirect emissions), with those set by the Paris Agreement for 2030. We also call on them to join this initiative and challenge the company on its current strategy, which is on track to destroy our living conditions on Earth. By 2030, TotalEnergies’ hydrocarbon production is expected to be 81 % above the level required by the net zero emissions scenario established by the International Energy Agency. Only a drastic change in strategy could bring TotalEnergies in line with global warming scenarios of 1.5°C or even 2°C by 2100.
Read the full op-ed here.
First signatories: Christophe Cassou, climatologist, director of research at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS); Wolfgang Cramer, geographer, director of research at the CNRS; Philippe Descola, anthropologist, professor emeritus at the Collège de France; Céline Guivarch, economist, director of research; Jean Jouzel, paleoclimatologist, director of research emeritus; Valérie Masson-Delmotte, paleoclimatologist, research director at the French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission; Magali Reghezza, geographer, teacher-researcher; Jean-Baptiste Sallée, climatologist at the CNRS; Yamina Saheb, doctor of energetics, researcher at the Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques; Heïdi Sevestre, glaciologist.
Complete list of signatories