Energy giant Total wins shareholder support for climate targets

Paris (AFP) –


Total, one of the world's biggest energy companies, on Friday won near-unanimous shareholder support for its long-term goals to fight climate change.

Only a tiny minority rebelled against the French company's plans at a shareholders' meeting, saying they fell short of what was needed to fight global warming.

Management's non-binding resolution, which followed similar moves at energy peers Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell, secured 91.88 percent backing at the assembly.

Total's pledges include reaching net-zero emissions in its global businesses by 2050, as well as for all its customers in Europe.

Shareholders had recognised "a true and sincere transformation process" and had backed "an audacious and demanding strategy", said chairman Patrick Pouyanne, who also won approval for a renewed term for himself at the helm of the company.

NGOs were disappointed, having announced ahead of the assembly that they hoped 15 percent of shareholders would call out management on their targets seen as too modest, as were other investors.

In the run-up to the gathering, asset management firm Meeschaert AM had urged Total to refrain from any new drilling for oil and gas, echoing an appeal by the International Energy Agency to all energy giants.

Pouyanne rejected the call on Friday, saying "radical solutions are not the answer" and reminding his audience that "80 percent of our economy runs on fossil fuels".

Dutch fund ACTIAM meanwhile said that Total's emissions strategy "falls short as it remains unclear how it will meet its goals given its current pace of fossil fuel production and investments that still significantly outpace those in renewables".

Eleven investors at last year's meeting put forward a motion for more ambitious climate targets -- prompting Pouyanne to remark on "those who act like activists, not like shareholders" -- but still won nearly 17 percent in a vote at the time.

At Friday's meeting, Total also won 99-percent support for a motion to change its name to TotalEnergies.