French green activists block TotalEnergies general meeting over climate inaction

Issued on: 25/05/2022 – 14:30

More than 100 activists tried to block oil giant TotalEnergies’ annual general meeting in central Paris on Wednesday to protest the energy firm’s climate policies and continued presence in Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. But investors approved a controversial shareholder resolution by 88.89 percent.

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and Alternatiba protesters handcuffed themselves to each other and impeded shareholders’ access to the building, claiming that TotalEnergies is not doing enough to fight climate change.

“It is no longer possible for the old world to serenely meet to validate projects that are destructive to the climate, human rights and peace,” the French branch of Friends of the Earth said on Twitter.

Activists unfurled a five-meter long banner saying, “no retreat, no general assembly”, a reference to the energy firm’s presence in Russiawhere it runs liquified gas extraction projects.

A spokesperson for Greenpeace France told shareholders and media kept outside the venue that they demanded an end to new oil and gas projects and the group’s withdrawal from Russia.

The meeting at the Salle Pleyel concert hall in central Paris was eventually declared open by TotalEnergies chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, but with the venue almost empty as so few shareholders had been able to enter.

He said that the AGM could go ahead “as a certain number of shareholders are present”.

Social media posts showed riot police using tear gas to prevent protestors blocking access to the venue.

‘Too passive’

TotalEnergies is aiming for net-zero carbon emissions by mid-century and has pledged to reduce emissions of its petroleum products by 30 percent compared to 2015.

Earlier on Wednesday, the group announced it had purchased a 50-percent stake in the US renewables producer Clearway Energy Group, as it seeks to expand its portfolio in the sector in the United States.

Investors approved by 88.89 percent the controversial shareholder resolution on the French company’s climate plans.

Some had announced in advance that they would vote against.

A group of shareholders representing 0.78 percent of the giant’s capital deposited a resolution – that was rejected – asking for the group to respect the Paris climate dealwhich seeks to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius and if possible 1.5 degrees.

“There are shareholders who recognize the climate emergency but on the whole they are still too passive,” Greenpeace France campaigner Edina Ifticene told AFP.

On Tuesday, oil giant Shell’s general assembly in central London was suspended for two hours due to disruption from climate change activists.

(with newswires)

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