TotalEnergies leaves the Paris Accord to be met by others

Green shareholders response to TotalEnergies’ Investor Day

TotalEnergies’ emission reduction targets for 2030* fall short of Paris-alignment. It is not up to TotalEnergies to reduce emissions to levels needed for a 1.5-degree pathway, but up to governments and consumers, the company explained on its Investor Day.

“TotalEnergies refuses to commit to achieving the Paris Accord. We need Big Oil to confront the climate crisis full-heartedly to achieve absolute emission reductions of around 40% (as laid out by IPCC and IEA),” responds Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, a group of green shareholders in Big Oil. “Unless oil majors immediately shift investments away from fossil fuels and into renewables, the Paris Accord will not be met.”

“Climate change bears a great risk, but brings even more opportunity; apparently, we have more trust in TotalEnergies than they have in themselves,” Mark van Baal, founder of Follow This, said.

Follow This climate resolutions

Since 2016, an increasing body of investors vote for the Follow This climate resolution, requesting oil majors to set Paris-consistent emission reduction targets (see graph below). In 2020, 17% of TotalEnergies’ shareholders voted for a similar climate resolution, filed by a group of institutional investors.

In 2021, 92% of TotalEnergies’ shareholders voted for TotalEnergies’ in-house climate resolution that supported its current, inadequate strategy. “Responsible investors will regret their vote after today,” commented Van Baal at the time.

CEO of TotalEnergies doesn’t believe in Paris

In the meeting, TotalEnergies’ CEO and chairman, Patrick Pouyanné, confidently said that the world will consume 90 million barrels of oil [equivalent] per day by 2030:

“According to our trajectory, by 2030 we are more around 90 million [barrels/day] and that means that we need to continue to invest in some O&G fields”; “Honestly, reducing the oil demand to 70 Mb/d by 2030 compared to 100 [Mb/d] we don’t know how this decrease could happen”.

In other words: there will be hardly any reduction in emissions compared to today (around 100 million barrels per day). “With this statement Patrick Pouyanné bluntly says he doesn’t believe that the Paris Accord – signed by almost 200 countries in his own city – will be met.”

No Paris-consistent targets

TotalEnergies also announced that it will increase fossil fuel production in the forthcoming years. “Increasing fossil fuel production and reaching the Paris Accord are incompatible goals. Therefore, TotalEnergies has no Paris-consistent emission reduction targets. The board of TotalEnergies attains that the rebranded company is exempt from the Paris Accord to limit global warming.”

Question from Follow This during the Q&A, by Roos Wijker

Q: Mr. Pouyanné, As the IPCC and the IEA showed this year, to achieve the goal of the Paris Accord, the world must cut absolute CO2-emissions by around 40% by 2030. Your company has no plans to substantially reduce absolute emissions this decade, you even want to grow fossil fuel production. Can you explain to investors why you think TotalEnergies is exempt from the Paris Accord?

Climate resolutions in 2022

Follow This will file climate resolutions at Shell, BP, and Equinor again. “We trust that responsible investors will not accept Total’s delay and file a climate resolution again to increase pressure on TotalEnergies’ board to commit to the Accord that was signed in the same city where they are headquartered. Our campaign has proven that engagement only works in combination with voting for climate resolutions.”

* TotalEnergies’ targets for 2030 and 2050

“TotalEnergies has no intention to cut emissions in line with the Paris Accord and even plans to grow fossil fuel production in the upcoming years.”

TotalEnergies’ target is to reduce its carbon intensity (CO2 per unit of energy) by 20% by 2030. Meanwhile, the company intends to grow its fossil fuels production in the same order of magnitude. This will not result in absolute emissions reductions sufficient to reach the Paris Accord. According to the latest IPCC and IEA reports, global absolute emissions have to be reduced by 42% (IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, 2021) or 38% (IEA Net Zero by 2050 Roadmap, 2021) to limit global warming to 1.5C.

IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, 2021: “To limit global warming, strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CO2, methane and other greenhouse gases are necessary.” and “Unless there are immediate, rapid, large-scale reductions in greenhouse gases, limiting global temp to 1.5 will be beyond reach.”