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11 Feb 2021

Notre Affaire à Tous, Sherpa, Eco Maires, France Nature Environnement & ZEA

Climate change litigation against Total: a first victory for the NGOs and local authorities

On 28 January 2020, fourteen French local authorities and 5 organisations...sued Total because of the inadequacy of its climate commitments with the objectives of the Paris Agreement. They request the judge to order the company to take adequate measures to prevent the risks arising from its activities, by drastically reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

Without replying on the merits, Total challenged the tribunal’s jurisdiction and requested that the dispute be brought before the commercial court, an exceptional court composed of company directors. 

In an order issued today, the pre-trial judge rejected Total’s objection and decided in favour of the organisations and local authorities, confirming its jurisdiction to rule on their claims...

...[T]he order recalls that the duty of vigilance “is Total’s social responsibility” and that “the letter” of the Commercial Code provisions relating to the duty of vigilance “calls for judicial review”. This decision is a first victory in this historic lawsuit against Total and contradicts previous decisions handed down in summary proceedings in the case concerning Total’s projects in Uganda...