Paris, February 10, 2023 – New step in the legal action initiated by 6 NGOs and 16 local authorities: the coalition responds to TotalEnergies’ climate inaction strategy and delaying tactics and asks the judge to order the multinational to take provisional measures such as the suspension of new oil and gas projects pending the court’s ruling.
In January 2020, a coalition of NGOs and local authorities took TotalEnergies to the judicial court. Joined in September 2022 by three additional local authorities and Amnesty International France, the coalition is asking the judge to formally order the oil company to take the necessary measures to comply with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, in accordance with the Law on the Duty of Vigilance of March 27, 2017.
Years of delay due to the multinational’s tactics
The procedure was initially delayed by Total, which unsuccessfully challenged the jurisdiction of the judicial court in favour of the commercial court, a court composed of company directors and dealing with business-related disputes. In 2022, the case was assigned to a single judge of the Paris judicial court, responsible for deciding on certain procedural issues as well as events that could end the trial before the court’s decision. In line with its previous strategy, Total raised a large number of defenses to declare the action inadmissible without discussion on the merits of the case.
Demands for concrete measures to address the multinational’s climate inaction
The coalition is now asking the judge to confirm the admissibility of the legal action and to reject the defenses raised by the company. While TotalEnergies claims to be « committed » to carbon neutrality by 2050, the company continues to develop new oil and gas projects (1) that, according to numerous reports(2), are leading straight to climate disaster(3).
Faced with the climate emergency, the NGOs and local authorities are asking the court to order the company to adopt provisional measures while awaiting the court’s decision on the merits of the case, which is not expected before at least several months , including:
- Suspension of new oil and gas projects, namely exploration of new hydrocarbon reserves and operation of new fields;
- Implementation of all necessary measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the company’s global operations in order to maintain a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement.
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(3) “Climat : l’ONU dénonce le « grand mensonge » des géants pétroliers et demande des poursuites”, Le Monde, AFP, 18 January 2023.