Investors plan to push Total to do more on climate change

PARIS (Reuters) - A group of eleven investors representing around 1.35% of energy major Total’s capital said on Wednesday the company needed to do more to meet its obligations under the 2015 Paris climate accord.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of French oil and gas company Total is seen in a petrol station in Paris, France February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

The group, led by French asset manager Meeschaert, said it will present a resolution during Total’s May 29 general assembly meeting to amend the statutes of the company to strengthen its commitments to achieve the goals in Paris Climate Agreement.

The investors said in a statement that Total’s current targets on climate change were insufficient.

A spokesman for the company said the group does not comment on resolutions before the shareholders general assembly meeting.

Energy companies have come under increased pressure from governments, activists and investors to lay out a clear path towards substantially, decreasing not only their own emissions, but also those from the products they sell.

“As long-term shareholders, we have an obligation to take climate risk into account in the management of our portfolios,” the statement said. “We therefore consider that the oil sector must play a decisive role in the energy transition.”

The group includes investors such as Actiam, Ecofi Investments, Sycomore Asset Management, La Banque Postale Asset Management and Credit Mutuel Asset Management, with around 765 billion euros ($834 billion) under management.

It said the target in the Paris agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century could lead to the end of oil and gas development, and they were concerned by the risk of Total’s assets becoming stranded.

“Total is therefore asked to specify a medium and long-term action plan with intermediate steps, as well as the means deployed to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in absolute terms,” the statement said.

This plan must also include indirect emissions, insofar as the use of products sold represents 85% of Total’s greenhouse gas emissions, it added.

Total has said it has reduced its emissions by 25% since 2010 and plans to further cut them to less than 40 million tons by 2025.

The investors said however that Total’s current plans were not enough to assess to what extent the company’s activities contributed to achieving the objective of the Paris Agreement.

“In the current debate around climate change ... the insufficient commitments of the oil group poses a risk to both the company and its shareholders,” it said.

If the resolution proposed by the investors is adopted by shareholders, it will lead to a drastic change in the company’s strategy, said Edina Ifticene, an oil campaigner at environmental lobby group Greenpeace.

Reporting by Bate Felix and Leigh Thomas; Editing by Kirsten Donovan and David Evans