Investors strike emissions agreement with Total

Energy giant Total has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner, following engagement with leading investors through Climate Action 100+.

The agreement means all Europe-based oil and gas majors are now working towards the net zero emissions goal, according to a statement from the investor advocacy group.

Total has set several targets for its business, including a 60% reduction in average carbon intensity of global energy products, net zero Scope 1 and 2 emissions and net zero Scope 3 emissions in Europe by 2050.

It has also pledged to assess its oil and gas capex allocation’s consistency with the goals of the Paris Agreement, and to “actively advocate for policies that support delivery of net zero emissions”.

These targets will be reviewed and revised every five years.

Stephanie Pfeifer
Stephanie Pfeifer, IIGCC CEO

Stephanie Pfeifer, member of Climate Action 100+’s steering committee and CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC), said Total’s commitment “shows how rapidly the [oil and gas] sector is changing”.

“Investors have secured progress on climate change from leading oil majors that would have been unimaginable only two years ago,” she said.

“There is still much more to be achieved, but with Europe’s oil majors now working to net zero ambitions, a new standard has been set for the rest of the sector.

“Acting on climate change and contributing to the energy transition remain just as imperative in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and investors will expect to see continued progress.”

The resolution was filed by 11 institutional investors representing more than €750bn in assets under management and roughly 1.35% of Total’s shareholder capital.

However, campaign group ShareAction claimed the commitment was “insincere” as it related to its operations in countries that had already committed to net zero emissions.

“If a country has already committed to net zero emissions, it follows that companies operating within that country will have to bring their own footprint in line with that policy in any event,” said Jeanne Martin, campaign manager at ShareAction.

She added that the French oil and gas company had not updated its shorter-term carbon intensity target, which “raises questions about the company’s commitment to meet the goals of the Paris agreement”.

“The IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C made it clear that the next 10 years will define society’s ability to keep global temperature rise below 1.5°C,” Martin said.

“While it is encouraging that the company will assess whether its new material capex investments are consistent with the Paris climate goals, what will happen to the investments that Total has already made and have been demonstrated to be inconsistent with the Paris climate goals?

“Investors should not be fooled by Total’s shiny new ambition, which is a clear attempt to stave off a shareholder rebellion at its AGM. We call on investors to support the more ambitious shareholder-led resolution which asks Total to set absolute Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets in line with the Paris climate goals.”

Last Updated: 14 May 2020
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