March 1, 2024

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Tear gas pollutes the air as TotalEnergies annual meeting rejects climate activists' decision

Tear gas pollutes the air as TotalEnergies annual meeting rejects climate activists’ decision

PARIS (Reuters) – Shareholders of Total Energy on Friday rejected an activist resolution calling for faster cuts in its greenhouse gas emissions program after climate protesters sought to disrupt its annual general meeting.

The resolution, submitted by Follow This Group and 17 institutional investors with a total of €1.1tn under management, received 30.44% of the vote, up from the 17% vote result in 2020, the last time a similar resolution was introduced.

Outside the venue, French riot police used pepper spray against several hundred climate activists who tried to disrupt the meeting.

The stench of tear gas from past clashes hung in the air as police escorted shareholders and dragged some protesters away to let them go. All meeting attendees were asked to put their phones in sealed bags for the duration of the meeting.

“I regret that this meeting did not take place in the circumstances it should have,” Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne told the meeting as it began on schedule. In any case, I hope that dialogue will follow.”

As climate activists ramped up demands for oil companies to set tougher targets on greenhouse gas emissions, protesters tried to storm the podium at Shell’s shareholder meeting earlier this week and disrupted BP’s general assembly last month.

Energy Minister Agnès Bagnier-Ronacher told France Info radio on Friday that oil and gas companies need to “reinvent themselves” and have no future unless they can chart a path out of fossil fuels.

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The Follow This resolution, which was opposed by TotalEnergies’ board of directors, called on the company to commit to greater absolute emissions reductions by 2030 rather than to intensity targets that could fall as the company adds renewable assets.

It also required TotalEnergies to include in its 2030 goals the Scope 3 emissions released when customers burn fuels sold by the company, such as aircraft or cars.

TotalEnergies’ internal climate plan, which proposes more modest gas cuts at its directly owned facilities, was approved with 88.76% of the vote.

The Company does not envisage a significant overall reduction in customer-generated emissions by 2030.

Scientists say the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by about 43% from 2019 levels by 2030 to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement’s target of keeping warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

“The flag is clear, but Total ignores it,” read one of the banners held by the demonstrators, including Greenpeace activists.

Reuters Graphics Reuters

Additional reporting by Benjamin Mallet and America Hernandez, Editing by Silvia Aloisi, Richard Love and Barbara Lewis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.