TotalEnergies climate strategy validated by a general meeting under pressure

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The shareholders of TotalEnergies largely validated the group’s climate strategy this Friday, May 26, during a general meeting held under pressure from protesters.

TotalEnergies shareholders broadly validated the group’s climate strategy on Friday during a general meeting held under pressure from protesters massed outside, but also from the government, which calls on it to reject fossil energy more quickly.

Environmentalists, who had promised to block the demonstration, were unable to carry out their project, kept at bay by tear gas fired by the police, but the climate has imposed itself as the central theme of this annual meeting. At the end of three hours largely dominated by this question, shareholders, on site or online, agreed with the group’s climate strategy by 88.76%.

Another advisory resolution, by activist shareholder organization Follow This, and rejected by the group, was rejected but still won 30.4% of the vote. He asked TotalEnergies to align its emissions reduction targets with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.

17 activist investors

“As long as investors allow oil companies to cause a climate meltdown by voting against alignment with the Paris Agreement, the oil majors will hang on to their fossil fuel business model for as long as possible,” Tarek said earlier. Bouhouch, for Follow This, during the Q&A session.

Among Follow This’s 17 activist investors, who own almost 1.5% of TotalEnergies, are La banque PostaleAM, Edmond de Rothschild AM and La Financière de l’Échiquier.

In addition, BNP AM, the banking group’s wealth management arm, told AFP on Friday evening that it had voted in favor of this resolution, but also the one presented by management. CNP Assurances indicated that it supported the Follow This resolution, but voted against management’s resolution.

“Sell your shares!, “It won’t last 2 hours!”, some shareholders had reacted, Patrick Pouyanné asking for his share to “Let Monsieur speak”.

Six arrests

The CEO of TotalEnergies fully justified himself with regard to his group, one of the five major world majors together with BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron. “Our company has been the major that has invested the most to build the energy model of tomorrow which will be based on electricity,” through renewable energy, he said, adding that he could not reduce his oil business.

“Global demand for oil is growing and if TotalEnergies does not satisfy this demand, others will do it for us”, he said again, responding “to the curmudgeons who accuse us of greenwashing”. The CEO had opened the annual meeting as scheduled at 10, held with a thousand safety precautions: security guards, barriers, police cars… and inside plexiglas plates to separate the stage from the audience.

At dawn, dozens of demonstrators attempted to enter the stretch of road in front of the Salle Pleyel, in the beautiful districts of Paris, before being chased away. The protesters then hung around, a hundred on each side of the stretch of road, chanting slogans, before dispersing around noon.

“We won’t let them go”, assured Marie Cohuet, spokesperson for the Alternatiba association, for whom TotalEnergies “embodies the worst of what is done in terms of exploitation of populations and the planet”. The blockade was organized with other associations including Friends of the Earth, ANV-COP21, ATTAC, Greenpeace, Scientists in Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion. Six people were arrested, police said. LCI’s Society of Journalists protested the fate of one of its videographers “brutally pushed aside and then pushed to the ground by security.”

If no activist managed to enter, one of the members would protest briefly in the room, without disturbing the session. Endowed with inheritance shares, she explained to AFP, she just had time to show her sign “Totally destroyed, the banks finance, we resist”.

“Get out of fossil fuels”

When asked about these events, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne believed that “climate activists” were “in their role to warn and say we must step up”. Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher called on TotalEnergies to “go faster” on renewable energy, adding that oil and gas companies “need to reinvent themselves, get out of fossil fuels”.

This meeting comes at the end of a stormy shareholders’ meeting season, during which actions against large groups have multiplied in a context of dizzying profits: together, BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies record more than 40 billion in profits this quarter , after a great year 2022.

While TotalEnergies does not expect to significantly reduce its direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions over the decade, it intends to devote a third of its investments to low-carbon energy and reach 100 GW of renewable electricity capacity by 2030.

The French group is present in numerous liquefied natural gas and oil projects, in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Papua and Uganda, with the controversial Eacop heated pipeline project becoming a symbol of the fight against oil.

This controversy adds to many others for the major, criticized for his record profit of 20.5 billion dollars (19.12 billion euros) in 2022, the amount of his taxes paid in France or the salary of his boss . The AG also adopted a 10% increase in CEO pay for 2023.

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