Total commits to net zero emissions through Climate Action 100+ investor engagement

Leading investors welcome a commitment secured with global energy company Total to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, or sooner. This is the outcome of collaborative investor engagement with the company through Climate Action 100+, an investor initiative launched in 2017 to ensure the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters take necessary action on climate change. More than 450 investors and stewardship providers, with more than $40 trillion in assets, participate in Climate Action 100+ globally.

Engagement with the oil and gas sector across Europe through Climate Action 100+ is led by investors with the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC). BNP Paribas Asset Management and EOS at Federated Hermes1 are the lead institutions undertaking engagement with Total as signatories to the initiative.

The longstanding focus of discussion with the company leading up to today’s announcement has been on three key themes: achieving net-zero emissions across operations and products by 2050, setting targets aligned to this goal and ensuring oil and gas capital expenditure (capex) is consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In a joint statement agreed with investors, Total today announces its ambition to achieve 2050 net zero emissions across its operations and products (covering scopes 1, 2 & 3 emissions). This includes:

–      60% or more reduction in the average carbon intensity of energy products used worldwide by Total customers by 2050 (to less than 27.5 gCO2/MJ).

–      Achieving net zero emissions across Total’s worldwide operations and production (scope 1 & 2) and energy products used by its customers in Europe (scope 3) by 2050 or sooner.

–      Oil and gas capex allocation to be assessed for consistency with the goals of the Paris Agreement, together with annual reporting.

–      To actively advocate for policies that support delivery of net zero emissions, together with mobilisation of its capabilities to deliver not only its own ambitions but also to help countries and other corporations to achieve net zero.

Total’s targets will be revised at least every five years in tandem with policy changes and market and technological developments.

Total’s commitment to net zero emissions is the latest following Climate Action 100+ investor engagement with Shell, BP and Repsol over the last 6 months2. Today’s joint statement with Total means all of Europe’s oil and gas majors are now working towards achieving net zero ambitions.

“This is a welcome commitment from Total and shows how rapidly the sector is changing. Investors have secured progress on climate change from leading oil majors that would have been unimaginable only two years ago,” explains Stephanie Pfeifer, a member of the global Climate Action 100+ Steering Committee and CEO, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC)“There is still much more to be achieved, but with Europe’s oil majors now working to net zero ambitions, a new standard has been set for the rest of the sector. Acting on climate change and contributing to the energy transition remain just as imperative in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and investors will expect to see continued progress.”

 The organisations leading engagement with Total also endorsed the steps the company is taking:

“This agreement is one of the most significant achievements in the oil and gas industry so far,” explains Helena Viñes Fiestas, Global Head of Stewardship and Policy, BNP Paribas Asset Management“We have had a long relationship with Total and our dialogue over time has resulted in mutual trust and understanding, enabling us to work together towards a carbon neutral, or net zero, future. The global energy system is under significant structural pressure from long-term forces such as decarbonisation and the deflationary impact of renewables, and how companies respond to the challenge of climate change will be key in determining their competitiveness in the longer-term. Total’s commitment shows that it understands the scale of this challenge and its ambition on renewables and plan for reducing its carbon footprint by 2050 position it at the forefront of its peer group of European majors.”

“We welcome Total’s 2050 net zero ambition and the further steps to achieve this, which follows constructive engagement over a number of years,” adds Bruce Duguid, Head of Stewardship, EOS at Federated Hermes. “This significantly advances the company’s long-term commitments on climate change, complemented by the important commitment to assess all new capex for consistency with the Paris goals. We look forward to supporting Total on the major task of successfully delivering this strategy. We will also urgently seek ways for Total and other oil and gas companies to make further commitments to deliver net zero emissions by 2050, which is critical to limiting climate change to 1.5C.”

Engagement will continue with Total to support the company and ensure delivery of the commitments made, while continuing to build on existing ambition.

The goal of Climate Action 100+ is to ensure the world’s largest emitting companies take greater action on climate change and put in place business strategies to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest3. This applies to emissions across the entire corporate value chain (scopes 1,2 and 3), including end use of products, with the outcome of helping limit global emissions to 1.5°C in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

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