- French riot police use tear gas to quell a protest by climate activists striving to disrupt the annual general meeting of global oil corporation, TotalEnergies.
- Shareholders reject an activist resolution, supported by Follow This and 17 institutional investors, demanding TotalEnergies align its climate objectives with the Paris Agreement and commit to carbon emission cuts by 2030.
- Despite ongoing protests, major oil corporations report record profits, with TotalEnergies doubling its previous year's net profit to $36.2 billion in 2022.
On a tense Friday, French law enforcement officials employed tear gas to disperse a throng of climate activists determined to prevent the annual general meeting of TotalEnergies, a leading global oil corporation. This spirited coalition of environmental advocates, comprising groups like 350.org, Friends of the Earth France, and Scientists in Rebellion, converged upon the venue to protest TotalEnergies’ continued investment in fossil fuels.
Gathered outside Salle Pleyel in Paris, the protesters expressed their resolve with chants of opposition towards the oil company, a symbolic stand underscored by their cries of "all we want is to knock down Total" and “one, two, three degrees, we have Total to thank”. This tense scene unfolded against a backdrop of heightened frustration among environmentalists, as TotalEnergies’ meeting coincided with other high-stake shareholder meetings, including those of British oil giants BP and Shell.
A clash ensued just before the start of the shareholder meeting, with law enforcement engaged in an intense standoff with the protesters. At the center of the meeting's agenda was an activist resolution aimed at compelling the company to align its climate objectives with the pivotal Paris Agreement, in addition to committing to definitive carbon emission cuts by 2030. Unfortunately, the resolution, introduced by Dutch activist shareholder group Follow This and supported by 17 institutional investors controlling assets worth $1.2 trillion, was defeated with only 30% of the vote.
Follow This spokesperson, Tarek Bouhouch, asserted that financial institutions have considerably amplified their efforts to counter the climate crisis. He emphasized the critical role of voting in compelling oil corporations to reduce emissions and adhere to the Paris Climate Agreement. Meanwhile, TotalEnergies had urged its shareholders to vote against the resolution, arguing that it would not provide a viable response to the challenges posed by climate change.
Despite the rising call for environmental accountability, major oil companies like BP and Shell also demonstrated lukewarm support for similar resolutions during their respective shareholder meetings. All the while, these corporations reported impressive profits in the past year, bolstered by escalating fossil fuel prices and robust demand, especially in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. TotalEnergies itself reported a net profit of $36.2 billion in 2022, doubling the figures from the previous year.
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