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21 May 2024

J. Br. avec AFP, BFMTV,
Damian Carrington, The Guardian

France: NGOs and eight 'victims of climate change' file criminal complaint against TotalEnergies executives

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

"Climate victims file criminal case against bosses of oil firm Total," 21 May 2024

A criminal case has been filed against the CEO and directors of the French oil company TotalEnergies, alleging its fossil fuel exploitation has contributed to the deaths of victims of climate-fuelled extreme weather disasters.

The case was filed... by eight people harmed by extreme weather, and three NGOs. The plaintiffs believe it to be the first such criminal case filed against the individuals running a major oil company. The public prosecutor who received the file has three months to decide whether to open a judicial investigation or dismiss the complaint.

The case aims to establish the alleged criminal liability of TotalEnergies’ directors and its major shareholders for deliberately endangering the lives of others, involuntary manslaughter, neglecting to address a disaster, and damaging biodiversity. Such crimes, if proven, are punishable by imprisonment and fines.

One plaintiff in the TotalEnergies complaint... lost his mother in the floods brought by storm Alex in south-eastern France...

Khanzadi K, from Pakistan, witnessed the death of her sister in devastating floods in 2022, while Jann G, saw her house burned down in Victoria, Australia, during the wildfires of summer 2019-20...

The other individual plaintiffs are from Zimbabwe, Belgium, the Philippines, and Greece. All say they were harmed by storms, floods or wildfires, which scientific studies have shown were made worse by global heating...

Total declined to comment.