Clashes in Paris before the general assembly under high tension of TotalEnergies
Dozens of activists are demonstrating on Friday near the Salle Pleyel in Paris, where the general meeting of TotalEnergies is to take place. While the group experienced record profits in 2022, several NGOs and climate activists had signed a platform at the end of April warning that they wanted to prevent this general assembly from taking place.
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After BP and Shell comes the turn of TotalEnergies: the French hydrocarbon giant is preparing for an electric general meeting on Friday May 26, targeted before its opening by scuffles between demonstrators for the climate and the police, while shareholders are also in disagreement with the group’s climate policy.
At dawn, dozens of climate demonstrators tried to enter the stretch of street passing 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 dislodged by the police and scuffles took place, noted an AFP journalist. The police used tear gas canisters to dislodge the protesters.
A coalition of NGOs called for the meeting to be blocked and dozens of activists are now seated at the entrances to rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, chanting in particular “What we want is to overthrow Total” and “One, two and three degrees, Total is to be thanked”.
The meeting comes at the end of a stormy GA season, where activists have stepped up actions against large groups, such as competitors Shell and BP or Barclays bank, accused of financing the expansion of hydrocarbon projects .
All against a backdrop of staggering profits: together, the majors BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies posted more than 40 billion dollars in profits this quarter, after a grandiose year 2022.
A sign of the expected tensions, TotalEnergies will prohibit shareholders and journalists from using their mobile phones, and will force them to leave certain personal effects at the entrance. The group especially wants to avoid the chaotic scenario of 2022, when NGO activists prevented shareholders from entering the AG.
The authorities expect the presence of 200 to 400 activists, who “absolutely want to prevent the holding of the GA”, according to a police source.
“Total’s GA will not take place”, immediately warned in a forum at the end of April the signatories 350.org, Alternatiba, Friends of the Earth, ANV-COP21, Attac, Greenpeace, Scientists in Rebellion and XR . “This general meeting plans to perpetuate the oil company’s strategy: ever more fossil projects and an unfair distribution of superprofits which fuels climatic and social injustice”, they denounce.
Read also Fossil projects, “climate bombs” in full proliferation
Record profit of $20.5 billion in 2022
Among the hot topics, the nearly 1.5 million individual shareholders, present or online, are being called to vote on an advisory resolution from the activist shareholder organization Follow This, which primarily tackles indirect CO2. In other words, those related to the use of oil by its customers in cars or for heating (scope 3 in carbon accounting), the equivalent of 85% of its carbon footprint. The organization asks it to align its reduction targets with the 2015 Paris agreement, in order to limit global warming to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era.
Within this coalition of 17 investors who hold almost 1.5% of TotalEnergies are La Banque Postale AM, Edmond de Rotschild AM and La Financière de l’Échiquier. The group recommends voting against, judging the resolution “contrary to the interests” of TotalEnergies, “of its shareholders and its customers”.
The major will nevertheless promote its efforts for the climate and calls on its shareholders to “vote in favor” of its own climate resolution. This official strategy focuses above all on its direct emissions, resulting from its operations or linked to the energy it consumes (perimeters known as “scope 1 and 2”).
Even if the group does not plan to drastically reduce its direct emissions in the decade, it intends to devote a third of its investments to low-carbon energies and reach 100 GW of renewable electricity capacity by 2030.
“It is the revenues from hydrocarbons that allow us to invest massively and develop renewables”, argued CEO Patrick Pouyanné on Wednesday in an interview with Challenges magazine.
The 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 having become a media symbol of the fight against oil.
“We (did) not know how to anticipate”, conceded to Challenges Patrick Pouyanné about this controversy, which adds to many others for the group, criticized for its record profit of 20.5 billion dollars ( 19.12 billion euros) in 2022, his taxes in France or the salary of the CEO. A 10% increase in his remuneration for 2023 is also on the agenda of the GA.