Paris, 30 May, 2023 – This wednesday, a first hearing will take place before the Paris judicial court in the climate change litigation initiated by 6 NGOs and 16 local authorities against TotalEnergies. Aftera month marked by strong mobilisations against fossil fuel projects, this hearing is an opportunity to debate the numerous defenses raised by the company to challenge the admissibility of this judicial action. Discussions will also address the coalition’s requests for provisional measures against TotalEnergies in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
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 TotalEnergies, 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. Since 2022, the case has been in the hands of a single judge of the Paris judicial court, responsible for deciding on certain procedural issues. Indeed, TotalEnergies raised a large number of defenses to declare the action inadmissible without discussion on the merits of the case.
Requests for concrete measures to address the multinational’s climate inaction
In response to these delaying tactics, the coalition is requesting confirmation of the admissibility of its judicial action and the dismissal of the defenses raised by the multinational. 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.
While TotalEnergies claims to be “committed” to carbon neutrality by 2050 , the company continues to develop new oil and gas projects  that, according to numerous reports , are leading straight to climate disaster .
Press release from:
Sherpa, Notre Affaires à Tous, Amnesty International France, Les Eco Maires, and cities of Paris, Bayonne, Bègles, Bize minervois, Grenoble, Vitry-le-François and Nanterre.
(1) TotalEnergies, Universal registration document 2021, p. 19: « Our ambition : Net zero by 2050, together with society ».
(3) UN-HLEG, Integrity matters net zero commitments by businesses financial institutions, cities and region, November 2022 ; AIE, Net Zero by 2050, A Roadmap for the Global Energy Sector, mai 2021.
(4) In French – “Climat : l’ONU dénonce le « grand mensonge » des géants pétroliers et demande des poursuites”, Le Monde avec AFP, 18 janvier 2023.
Sherpa – Théa Bounfour – firstname.lastname@example.org
Notre Affaire à Tous – Justine Ripoll – email@example.com
Amnesty International France – Véronique Tardivel – firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Grenoble – Aurélie Martin – email@example.com