Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credits: Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP 15:04 pm, May 26, 2023

During a general meeting held under pressure from protesters, TotalEnergies shareholders largely validated the group's climate strategy on Friday. At the end of three hours largely dominated by this question, shareholders, on site or online, adopted it by 88.76%.

The shareholders of TotalEnergies largely validated Friday the group's climate strategy, during a general meeting held under pressure from demonstrators, massed outside, but also the government, who call on it to turn away more quickly from fossil fuels. The environmental activists, who had promised to block the event, could not carry out their project, kept at bay by the tear gas launched by the police, but the climate emerged as the central theme of this annual meeting.

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The group's climate strategy adopted by 88.76%

At the end of three hours largely dominated by this issue, 88.76% of shareholders, on site or online, adopted the group's climate strategy. Another consultative resolution from activist shareholder organization Follow This, rejected by the group, was rejected but still received 30.4% of the vote. It asked TotalEnergies to align its emission reduction targets with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to +1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial era.

"As long as investors allow oil companies to cause a climate collapse by voting against alignment with the Paris agreement, the oil majors will cling to their fossil fuel business model for as long as possible," Tarek Bouhouch, for Follow This, previously said during the Q&A.

Patrick Pouyanné explains TotalEnergies' plan

Among the 17 activist investors of Follow This, who own nearly 1.5% of TotalEnergies, are La Banque PostaleAM, Edmond de Rothschild AM, La Financière de l'Échiquier. "Sell your shares!", "It's not going to last two hours!", then reacted some shareholders, Patrick Pouyanné calling for his part to "let Mr. speak". The CEO of TotalEnergies has long justified himself on the plan of his group, one of the five major world majors with BP, Shell, ExxonMobil and Chevron.

"Our company has been the major that has invested the most to build the energy model of tomorrow that will be based on electricity," via renewable energy, he said, adding that he cannot reduce his oil business. "The demand for oil at the global level is growing and if it is not TotalEnergies that meets this demand, others will do it for us," he said, responding to the "grumpy who accuse us of greenwashing".

An annual meeting under high security

The CEO had opened as planned at 10 am the annual meeting, held with a thousand security precautions: guards, barriers, police cars ... and inside plexiglass plates to separate the stage from the audience. At dawn, dozens of demonstrators tried to enter the stretch of street in front of the Salle Pleyel in the beautiful Parisian neighborhoods before being dislodged. The demonstrators then remained nearby, about a hundred on each side of the street segment, chanting slogans, before dispersing around noon.

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"We will not let them go," said Marie Cohuet, spokesperson for the Alternatiba association, for whom TotalEnergies "embodies the worst of what is done in terms of exploitation of populations and the planet". The blockade was organised with other associations including Friends of the Earth, ANV-COP21, Attac, Greenpeace, Scientists in Rebellion and Extinction Rebellion. Six people were arrested, according to police. The LCI Society of Journalists protested against the fate of one of its videographers "brutally dismissed and then pushed to the ground by security".

"Climate activists are in their role to warn," says Elisabeth Borne

If no activists managed to enter, a person among the shareholders briefly protested in the room, without disturbing the session. Endowed with shares by inheritance, she explained to AFP, she just had time to show her sign "Total destroyed, banks finance, we resist". Asked about these events, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said that "climate activists" were "in their role to alert and say that we must accelerate". Energy Transition Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher called on TotalEnergies to "go faster" on renewable energies, adding that oil and gas companies "must reinvent themselves, get out of fossil fuels".

This meeting comes at the end of a season of stormy AGMs, during which actions have multiplied against the big groups against a backdrop of staggering profits: together, BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron and TotalEnergies post more than $ 40 billion in profits this quarter, after a grandiose 2022. Even if TotalEnergies does not plan to significantly reduce its direct and indirect greenhouse gas 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.

Record profit of $20.5 billion

The French group is present in many liquefied natural gas and oil projects in the United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Papua and Uganda, with the controversial Eacop heated oil pipeline project becoming a media symbol of the anti-oil struggle.

This controversy adds to many others for the major, criticized for its record profit of $ 20.5 billion (19.12 billion euros) in 2022, the amount of its taxes paid in France or the salary of its boss. A 10% increase in the CEO's remuneration for 2023 was adopted by the AGM.