14 cities & NGOs call on Total to comply with French Duty of Vigilance law

On October 23, 2018, 14 towns in conjunction with the following associations: Notre Affaire à Tous, Les Eco Maires, Sherpa, and Zea, challenged Total with regards to its inaction on climate change, on the basis of the French law on the duty of vigilance.  After a call to address this noncompliance, Total released a revised plan, published in March 2019. While Total’s new plan mentions climate change, the towns and associations noted the proposals announced are still insufficient to comply with the Paris Agreement. A meeting among representatives of the associations concerned, cities, and Total took place on June 18th and led to no major changes to the plan. The towns and associations have noted that if within three months, Total has not taken adequate measures to reduce their gas emissions, the towns, as well as the organizations mentioned above will take Total to court for failure to comply with the law and the requirements of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Total responded to the towns' and organizations' official letter. 

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26 June 2019

Press release: Total meets with cities & NGOs to discuss alleged non-compliance with French duty of vigilance law

Author: Total

"Total Discusses Climate Change With Community Representatives", 18 June 2019

Total Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanné has met with 13 representatives from the local municipalities and NGOs who challenged Total on October 22, 2018 about its vigilance in the face of climate change. 

During the meeting, [...] the community representatives expressed their concerns and their expectations with regard to Total. In response, Patrick Pouyanné described how Total’s strategy integrates the issue of climate change. This notably includes taking into account the energy market outlook for 2040 as predicted by the International Energy Agency in its Sustainable Development Scenario... 

“Total welcomes dialogue with all its stakeholders,” said Mr. Pouyanné. “This meeting represents a first step. Total is eager for discussions to continue so that real-world initiatives can be undertaken with interested local communities. Total’s primary purpose is to provide as many people as possible with energy that is more reliable, more affordable and cleaner. National targets for complying with the Paris Agreement, and the measures to be implemented to meet them, are decided by each country’s government. Total complies with the laws and regulations applicable to its operations in all of the countries where we do business...

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21 June 2019

Formal letter to Total stating non-compliance with Duty of Vigilance Law

Author: Seattle Avocats

"Formal notice to comply with the Duty of Vigilance Law – article L. 225-102-4.-I et II of the French commercial Code", 14 June 2019

[The] fifteen communities, each exposed to varying effects of climate change, and four associations... require [Total] to comply with legal obligations imposed on you as regards duty of vigilance and climate risk.... In March, 2018, your Group has published a first “vigilance plan” in its “2017 registration document”. However... the risks published did not mention the risks associated with climate change, resulting from the overall increase in greenhouse gas emission from your activities... [and] did not include any appropriate action to mitigate the risk and prevent serious harm from the climate change...on March 20, 2019, your company published a second ‘vigilance plan” integrated into the 2018 reference document, which now explicitly identifies climate change within its risk mapping section... the measures announced in your Vigilance Plan for your GHG emissions are well below the GHG emission reduction efforts required by your company to comply with the Paris Agreement... [Total] acknowledged on 6 November 2018 that your strategy "leads to a warming of between 2 and 2.5 ° C"2... In consequence, we address you a formal notice... by publishing a new “vigilance plan”, within three months from the receipt of the notification... The new plan must include:...

  • An identification of the risk resulting from the GHG emissions generated by the use of goods and services that your group produces.
  • An identification of the risks of serious harm as outlined in the last IPCC special report of October 2018.
  • Adapted actions to ensure that your group is on a trajectory compatible with global warming...

Otherwise, we would be forced request the competent jurisdiction to order you, if necessary under periodic penalty payments, to bring you into compliance with the legal requirements.

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21 June 2019

Total's response re alleged non-compliance with French duty of vigilance law (unofficial English translation)

Author: Total

...Total is fully aware of the climate issues, has long been recognizing them publicly, takes them into consideration in its strategy, and in this regard, develops concrete actions... following the Paris Agreement, Total was the first oil and gas producer to dedicate a report dealing with climate-related issues... These actions are structured around [five] key strands:

  1. improve the energy efficiency of our operations;
  2. grow on the integrated gas chain, an essential alternative to coal;
  3. develop our presence on the whole low-carbon electricity chain;
  4. promote bioenergies (biofuels, biogas);
  5. develop carbon storage, through nature based solutions (forests…), or capture/storage/use of carbon dioxide.

Total’s Management Board agreed that the duty of care plan of Total, which will be included in the 2019 annual management report will process the risks linked to climate change... We have taken note of the concerns of the local governments and associations that you represent and offer to meet them in order to discuss the ways in which we can pursue our shared ambition of tackling climate change.


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19 June 2019

Press release calling on Total to address climate change in vigilance plan

Author: Notre Affaire à Tous, Les Eco Maires, Sherpa, and Zea

On October 23rd 2018, 13 cities and [Notre Affaire à Tous, Les Eco Maires, Sherpa, and Zea] challenged Total after the corporation released a vigilance plan that failed to mention climate change... This omission is in direct contradiction to its legal obligation to undertake the actions necessary to prevent both human rights violations and environmental harms caused by its activities... 25 international organizations [including Total] are responsible for more than 50% of all global emissions. As a major energy corporation, Total is the only one originally responsible for 0.9% of global emissions... By not limiting its gas emissions to help keep global temperatures below 1.5 C, Total is failing to comply with the Paris Agreement... We ask Total to prove that they are contributing to and heeding the Paris Accords. A report titled " Total : la stratégie du chaos climatique " by Notre Affaire à Tous, 350.org, and the Amis de la Terre shows that...  Total’s promises and subsequent economic model are incompatible with... the Paris Accords. Following a meeting on June 18th between Total and organizations and cities involved, Total has not shown any motivation to change. Concerned parties are willing to take further action against Total to remind them that no one is above the law if they continue their current ways... [This] response against Total by concerned cities and associations is a part of a global movement, aimed at making companies recognize the role they have played in climate change and convincing them to reduce gas emissions.

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