TotalEnergies: Police use tear gas to drive away protesters ahead of general assembly

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Strong tensions at the TotalEnergies general meeting in Paris this Friday May 26, 2023 in the early hours of the morning. The police used tear gas. A group of climate activists wanted to prevent the oil group’s general meeting from taking place.

Clashes between police and climate protesters broke out on Friday morning, with the forced use of tear gas, near the Paris hall where the TotalEnergies Annual General Meeting will be held. After BP and Shell, it’s TotalEnergies’ turn: the French hydrocarbon giant is preparing for an electricity assembly, targeted by a coalition of associations that threatens to block it, but also by some of its shareholders who disagree with its climate policy.

In front of the Salle Pleyel where the AG of Total was to take place today, the police strike and gauze but the activists are determined to block Total

— Marie Cohuet (@mariecohuet) May 26, 2023

At dawn, dozens of climate protesters tried to enter the stretch of road that passes in front of the Salle Pleyel, in the beautiful districts of Paris. A dozen of them, who had sat in front of the entrance, were removed by the police.

Very tense atmosphere in front of the Salle Pleyel where the AG Total will be held at 10 am. Environmentalists try to climb over a police checkpoint that distributes truncheon blows, an activist falls to the ground, “doctor, doctor” the Alternatiba activists shout. #totestpol @LCI @TF1Info

— Paul Larrouturou (@PaulLarrouturou) May 26, 2023

After three warnings in less than a minute via loudspeaker, the police fired tear gas.

The police broke the window and arrested the driver of the truck who had come to bring a sound system for the attempt by environmental activists to prevent the General Assembly of TotalEnergies, Salle Pleyel.
Report #totestpol full at 11 @LCI @TF1Info

— Paul Larrouturou (@PaulLarrouturou) May 26, 2023

Total after Shell and BP

The meeting, which a coalition of NGOs has asked to block, comes at the end of a stormy season of the GA, where actions against large groups have multiplied, such as competitors Shell and BP or the bank Barclays, accused of financing the expansion of hydrocarbon projects. All against a backdrop of staggering profits: together, majors BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies reported profits of more than $40 billion this quarter, after a great 2022.

A sign of the expected tensions, TotalEnergies will ban shareholders and journalists from using cell phones on Friday, forcing them to leave some personal effects at the entrance. Above all, the group wants to avoid the chaotic scenario of last year, when NGO activists prevented shareholders from entering the AG. The authorities expect the presence of between 200 and 400 people who “absolutely want to prevent the GA from taking place”, according to a police source.

“Total’s AG will not take place”, the signatories of, Alternatiba, Friends of the Earth, ANV-COP21, Attac, Greenpeace, Scientists in Rebellion and XR immediately warned in a forum at the end of April. “This general meeting intends to perpetuate the oil company’s strategy: more and more fossil projects and an unjust distribution of super profits that fuels climate and social injustice”, they denounce.

Police evacuate climate protesters in front of Paris’ Salle Pleyel.
Photo: AFP

A resolution “contrary to the interests” of TotalEnergies

Among the hot topics, the nearly 1.5 million individual shareholders, present or online, are being called to vote on an advisory resolution by activist shareholder organization Follow This, which deals primarily with indirect CO2. In other words, those relating to the use of oil by its customers in cars or for heating (“scope 3” in carbon accounting), or 85% of its carbon footprint.

The coalition of shareholders is asking it to align its emissions reduction targets with the 2015 Paris Agreement, in order to limit global warming to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era. Among these 17 investors, who own almost 1.5% of TotalEnergies, are La banque PostaleAM, Edmond de Rothschild AM, La Financière de l’Échiquier. The group recommends voting against, judging the resolution “contrary to the interests” of TotalEnergies, “its shareholders and its customers”. The major will still promote its climate efforts and calls on its shareholders to “vote for” its climate resolution. This official strategy focuses primarily on its direct emissions, resulting from its operations and those related to the energy it consumes (purposes known as “scope 1 and 2”).

Total CEO salary: +10%

Even if the group does not expect to drastically reduce its direct emissions in the decade, it intends to allocate a third of its investments to low carbon energies and reach 100 GW of renewable electricity capacity by 2030. «These are the revenues from hydrocarbons that allow invest massively and develop renewable energy,” CEO Patrick Pouyanné said on Wednesday in an interview with Challenges magazine. The group is involved in several liquefied natural gas and oil projects, in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Papua and Uganda , with the controversial Eacop heated pipeline project becoming a media symbol of the fight against oil. “We didn’t (not) know how to anticipate,” admitted Pouyanné of this controversy, which adds to many others for the group, criticized for its record earnings of $20.5 billion (€19.12 billion) in 2022, his taxes in France or the salary of the CEO A 10% increase in his salary for 2023 is also on the agenda of the ‘AG.

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