This investigation was opened by the economic and financial center of the Nanterre public prosecutor's office (Hauts-de-Seine) following a criminal complaint, in October 2020, from several environmental defense associations, learned Thursday the AFP from a source familiar with the matter, confirmed by the prosecution.

These associations (Wild Legal, Sea Shepherd France and Darwin Climax Coalitions) notably accuse the oil giant of degrading the air.

Contacted by AFP, the oil giant defended its "concrete (...) strategy to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050", citing "investments", "new professions" and a "significant drop in gas emissions at greenhouse effect".

Its emissions in Europe have been reduced "by 23% between 2015 and 2021", he said again.

TotalEnergies also claimed to have "17 GW (gigawatt) of renewable capacity installed worldwide, compared to nearly 0 GW in 2018".

“Greenwashing in the name of sustainable development is lasting cynicism,” said William Bourdon, lawyer for environmental associations.

"The insincerity of Total's commitments will necessarily lead to a lawsuit for deceptive commercial practices," he told AFP.


According to Mediapart, which consulted their complaint, the charges relate to misleading commercial practices – for which the prosecution has opened its investigation – but also facts of environmental degradation which would be due to the extractive activities of TotalEnergies.

An additional complaint, in 2021, mentions the development by 2025 of 400 oil drilling wells in Uganda.

In April 2022, the three associations again filed a complaint, accusing TotalEnergies of "other practices" which they believed to be the origin of "ecocide", the public prosecutor explained to AFP.

Still under study, this complaint has not, at this stage, led to the opening of an investigation or been joined to the investigations in progress.

This is not the first time that TotalEnergies projects have been targeted by the courts.

At the end of December, the giant was summoned by six NGOs who accused it of failing in its "duty of vigilance" on a mega oil project in Uganda and Tanzania.

Friends of the Earth, Survival and four Ugandan NGOs accuse it of carrying out this project in defiance of human rights and the environment, and urge the group to respect a law passed in 2017 which imposes a "duty of vigilance" on multinationals. about their activities around the world.

Since 2017, the legislation has thus obliged multinationals to prevent serious violations of human rights, the health and safety of people and the environment through a "vigilance plan".

The decision in this case will be rendered on February 28 in Paris.

At the same time, in Nanterre, the investigation for "misleading commercial practices" continues.

According to a source familiar with the matter, TotalEnergies has not, at this stage, been heard by the investigators.

© 2023 AFP