French oil giant TotalEnergies sues Greenpeace over emissions report

18 05 2023 | 11:11Reuters

The French oil major TotalEnergies has sued the environmental group Greenpeace France and the climate consulting firm Factor-X over a report claiming that the company massively underestimated its 2019 greenhouse gas emissions, Total said on Wednesday.

The civil complaint, served on 28 April, seeks a ruling that the November publication contains “false and misleading information”, a judicial order to withdraw the publication and cease all references to it under penalty of €2,000 (£1,760) a day in fines, plus a symbolic €1 in damages.

A first procedural hearing will take place on 7 September at the Paris judicial court to set a calendar for arguments, though it will be several months before a judge begins to rule on the merits of the case.Greenpeace and Factor-X accused the oil major of having emitted about 1.64bn tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 but only disclosing 455m tonnes in public statements.

TotalEnergies countered that the report double-counted emissions by knowingly using dubious methodologies, which were morally prejudicial to the listed company.

“This is a question of principle, and a judgment from the court will not prevent Greenpeace from continuing to criticise us and our climate strategy if they wish, but will remind them that public debate on issues with such high stakes concerning a listed company require rigour and good faith,” a TotalEnergies spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the company’s main goal was to have the court recognise the knowingly false nature of the report, since the Factor-X firm behind the maths presented itself as an expert in the field of carbon emissions accounting.

Factor-X could not immediately be reached for comment.

Greenpeace said the lawsuit was an attempt to muzzle it before the 26 May TotalEnergies general assembly, where activist shareholders will push for stricter climate commitments.

Environmental groups have called for entry to be blocked in protest at the company’s global oil and gas projects.

“TotalEnergies wants to drag Greenpeace through a long legal process … erase our reports and prevent us from denouncing their misleading and climate-killing practices,” said the Greenpeace France director, Jean-François Julliard.

“We will continue to lift the veil on their responsibility in global warming.”






cover photo:TotalEnergies claimed the report double-counted emissions. Photograph: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters