• For the first time, researchers have identified 425 carbon bombs in total in the world, the exploitation of which would make it impossible to limit global warming below 1.5°C.

  • This concept refers to the largest fossil fuel extraction projects, whose potential emissions would exceed 1 gigatonne of CO2 over their operating life.

  • The French company TotalEnergies is involved in 25 projects, whose cumulative potential emissions amount to 59.6 Gt of CO2.

    Four of them "are directly incompatible with what the International Energy Agency says", explains Guillaume Pottier, campaign manager for the commitment of financial actors for Reclaim Finance.

Gas drilling in the Russian Arctic, huge oil reserves in the United Arab Emirates, threatened projects in Mozambique… According to a study published on May 12 and analyzed by the NGO Reclaim Finance, the French major TotalEnergies is involved in 25 “ carbon bombs”, four of which were not (yet) in development in 2021.

The latter should neither be explored nor exploited if TotalEnergies, which announced a net profit of 16 billion dollars in February, wants to align itself with the zero carbon trajectory recommended by the International Energy Agency (IEA ).

Rather known for its conservative positions, the IEA has called for no longer validating the development of new oil and gas fields from 2021 and for investing massively in renewable energies to keep control of climate change.

The information is crucial as the company's shareholders must give their opinion on Wednesday, during the annual general meeting, on the report on the group's strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Contacted by

20 Minutes

, TotalEnergies does not wish to comment on this study.

Researchers have identified 425 carbon bombs in the world

What is a carbon bomb?

This concept designates the largest fossil fuel extraction projects, whose potential emissions would exceed 1 gigatonne of CO2 over their operating life.

For the first time, researchers have identified 425 worldwide, including 195 oil and gas projects and 230 mining.

Added together, all of these projects would explode the carbon budget available to the planet to limit global warming to 1.5°C "by a factor of two", say the researchers in

Energy Policy

.

"This study creates a new framework that emphasizes what the gas, oil and coal industry sees as

business as usual

and shows that this status quo is a problem in the face of the climate emergency," Kjell said. Kühne, its lead author and PhD student at the University of Leeds in the UK.

In 2011, he participated in the creation of the Leave it in the Ground campaign, which advocates for an end to the use of fossil fuels.

TotalEnergies is involved in 25 highly polluting projects

These figures were made possible in particular thanks to the paid database Rystad Energy, an independent consulting firm on the oil and gas industry, based in Norway.

The NGO Reclaim Finance, which has access to this database, analyzed for

20 Minutes

the participation of TotalEnergies in these carbon bombs.

The company is involved in 25 projects, whose cumulative potential emissions amount to 59.6 Gt of CO2.

Russia, China, Middle East: 13 of them are also located in regions where carbon bombs are concentrated.

Several projects, already in development, will have a heavy impact if all their known reserves are exploited.

In Argentina, potential emissions from the Vaca Muerta Shale oil and gas reserves are estimated at 5.2 Gt of CO2, in the United States, those from the Utica Shale project, 100% owned by the company, are estimated at 7, 7 Gt of CO2, those of Changqing in China would reach 4.9 Gt of CO2.

In the United Arab Emirates, where TotalEnergies is involved in six carbon bombs, all of these oil and gas projects could emit 16.5 Gt of CO2.

“We must no longer develop new fossil fuel extraction projects”

But the most worrying carbon bombs, which should be "defused" as soon as possible according to the researchers, turn out to be the new projects that have not yet been launched.

“As scientific studies show, the IEA report, as the Secretary General of the United Nations repeats, we must no longer develop new fossil fuel extraction projects, we must no longer invest there, explains Kjell Kühne.

Current projects can already take us beyond a warming of 1.5°C or 2°C.

It will therefore be necessary to close existing infrastructures before their reserves are exhausted.

If we build new projects today, they will have to be closed sooner and some will lose money in the process.

»

In their study, the researchers propose a moratorium on these hundred new projects, which would make it possible to avoid a third of potential CO2 emissions.

In 2021, TotalEnergies planned four new "carbon bombs", located in Russia, Brazil and Mozambique, whose development had not yet begun.

“These are therefore projects that are directly incompatible with what the IEA says, specifies Guillaume Pottier, campaign manager with financial players for Reclaim Finance.

TotalEnergies, or its shareholders, would have the power not to develop them.

Their cumulative potential emissions reach 5.7 Gt of CO2.

"The energy transition is not there"

In the next decade, TotalEnergies plans to invest large sums in fossil fuels, just like Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, ExxonMobil or Shell.

“The energy transition is not there, believes Guillaume Pottier.

TotalEnergies would have to show very quickly that it is capable of lowering its fossil fuel production while increasing its renewable production, which is not the case.

»

In 2020, 84% of investments, or 11 billion dollars, were directed to fossil fuels, he specifies.

"Over the period 2022-2025, we are at more than 70%, or 10.1 billion dollars that will go to fossil fuels each year," he adds.

In comparison, over this period, the company plans to invest $3.5 billion a year in renewable energy.

It has set itself a target of 100 GW of renewable capacity in 2030.

In an in-depth investigation, the

Guardian

showed that 12 oil and gas majors – including TotalEnergies – planned to invest millions of dollars every day until 2030 in projects incompatible with a global warming limit of 1.65°C and , even beyond, incompatible with a warming limited to 2.7°C.

In the Arctic, in Mozambique, compromised projects

In the Russian Arctic, one of the fastest warming regions on Earth, the gigantic liquefied natural gas project Arctic LNG 2 has become particularly controversial since the war in Ukraine.

While TotalEnergies is going to give up Russian oil by the end of the year, the company is not yet abandoning its gas investments and in particular Yamal LNG, already in operation, and Arctic LNG 2. At the end of April, it announced a impairment of assets of 4.1 billion euros on this project, due to the sanctions against Moscow.

In Mozambique, its three gas and oil projects are also suffering from the very tense situation in the country.

The development of a 16.5 billion euro liquefied natural gas project had started in 2020. But after an attack by jihadists on a site in the province of Cabo Delgado, TotalEnergies suspended it in April 2021. In Brazil , Libra, a huge offshore oil field discovered in the Atlantic Ocean, is another project off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

The exploitation of part of this giant deepwater field began in 2017 in a preproduction phase, named Mero.

"TotalEnergies' strategy is still not aligned with the Paris Agreement"

TotalEnergies, however, defends its investments and wants to continue its development throughout the liquefied natural gas chain.

It indicates to

20 Minutes

that in 2050, fossil fuels should not represent more than 25% of its energy production mix and that it will therefore be "in line with the landing point of the IEA scenario ".

According to the Climate Action 100+ investor coalition, which notes the climate efforts of the biggest polluters, TotalEnergies has not yet decarbonized its capital expenditure, despite the company having set carbon neutral ambitions by 2050.

For the past two years, a small group of shareholders have been pushing for the company to engage more meaningfully.

"We consider that the strategy of TotalEnergies is still not aligned with the Paris agreement", regrets, with

20 Minutes

, the Edmond de Rothschild AM investment fund, stressing that TotalEnergies has no quantified objective absolute reduction of its other indirect emissions (known as scope 3) at the global level before 2030. “Its 2030 objective seems to be that its absolute emissions remain globally stable, which is not compatible with the various scientific scenarios and the recommendations of the IPCC “, adds the fund.

Eleven shareholders wanted to bring a resolution to the GM this Wednesday for TotalEnergies to commit to a climate strategy with objectives aligned with the Paris agreement, which the board of directors refused.

"This absolutely does not take into account the climate emergency", deplores Edmond de Rothschild AM.

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