In response to the resolution filed by a coalition of 11 institutional investors representing more than 750 billion euros in assets under management and approximately 1.35% of Total’s shareholder capital, Total has today published a joint statement with Climate Action 100+ announcing a new climate ambition.

Responding to Total’s announcement, Jeanne Martin, campaign manager at ShareAction, says: “Total’s ambition to be a net zero business in regions that have already committed to net zero is totally insincere. If a country has already committed to net zero emissions, it follows that companies operating within that country will have to bring their own footprint in line with that policy in any event.

“Total has also failed to update its shorter-term carbon intensity target of 15% by 2030. This raises questions about the company’s commitment to meet the goals of the Paris agreement. The IPCC Special Report on 1.5C made it clear that the next 10 years will define society’s ability to keep global temperature rise below 1.5C.

“While it is encouraging that the company will assess whether its new material capex investments are consistent with the Paris climate goals, what will happen to the investments that Total has already made and have been demonstrated to be inconsistent with the Paris climate goals? Indeed, Carbon Tracker found that 30-40% of Total’s capex for both sanctioned and unsanctioned projects for the period 2019-2030 are outside of the IEA’s B2DS.

“Investors should not be fooled by Total’s shiny new ambition, which is a clear attempt to stave off a shareholder rebellion at its AGM. We call on investors to support the more ambitious shareholder-led resolution which asks Total to set absolute Scope 1, 2 and 3 targets in line with the Paris climate goals.”

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Colin Baines of Friends Provident Foundation said: “As the only UK co-filer of the climate change shareholder resolution at the French oil major Total, we are disappointed by today’s announcement.

“Whilst a net-zero target for 2050 is welcome, the interim targets apply only to the carbon intensity of products (targeting just a 15% intensity reduction by 2030), not absolute emissions, and therefore kick the difficult decisions into the long-grass. Despite being an international business operating in 130 countries, Total is only committing to being a net zero business (covering its scope 1, 2 and 3) in regions that have themselves committed to net zero, such as the EU. This urgently needs changing to include Total’s global emissions.

“As things stand, Total does not have a transition plan with medium and long-term targets aligned with the Paris climate agreement and covering absolute emissions, as requested by our shareholder resolution.

“Whilst progress should be applauded it is disappointing to see uncritical joint statements from Total and investors that ignore these obvious and significant flaws. Investors need to be wise to Total’s attempt to undermine support for our resolution at the forthcoming AGM and, if vocal commitments to ESG and addressing climate change are to be believed, they must vote in support and be directed by the climate science.”