Paris, May 29th 2020: This morning, Total held its 2020 General Assembly, an historical event for French Finance. 16.8% of the oil company’s shareholders voted for the first climate resolution ever filled in France, therefore initiating the wake-up call of shareholders’ responsibility to push the French oil major toward a complete transformation of its activities. But, 83.2% voted against the resolution, putting short term interests first and giving in to clan logic and habits.

“We commend shareholders that decided to break the tragedy of horizons and the omerta on Total. We let History be the judge of those who refused to act now to push the biggest CAC40 polluter on the path of a fossil fuel phase-out. This resolution marks a clear shift in the evolution of French actionnarial capitalism. If 16.8% supported the resolution, against 83.2% (1), there is no going back. Total will have no choice but to review its climate ambitions to avoid facing another and even more supported resolution next year” comments Lucie Pinson, Founder and Director of Reclaim Finance.

As a reminder, 11 shareholders, including La Banque Postale AM, le Crédit Mutuel Asset Management and les Assurances du Crédit Mutuel or Meeschaert, overcame the obstacles to fill a resolution in France. In April, they filed a resolution asking Total to adopt absolute decarbonization objectives, with a detailed strategy and calendar to reach them, aligned with the Paris Agreement (2).

Total, backed by BNP Paribas and Hermes EOS, reacted by announcing a few climate commitments (3). These announcements were merely a smoke screen, containing no short or middle term measures and reserving carbon neutrality on scope 3, that account for 90% of the group’s emissions, to Europe, the continent where societal, economical and political transformations are already making this objective unavoidable (4). The 11 shareholders behind the climate resolution welcomed these commitments but assessed that they were largely insufficient and decided to maintain the resolution. Unexpectedly, BNP Paribas announced on Tuesday that it would abstain (5).

“BNP Paribas’ abstention is almost as important as the votes in favor of the resolution. For three years, BNP has supposedly been engaging with Total on climate issues in the name of a coalition that manages 40 trillion dollars in assets. With Total, BNP Paribas tried to dissuade the 11 shareholders from going through with the resolution and backed the oil company’s lacking climate announcements. However, by abstaining, BNP Paribas now recognizes that these announcements are not sufficient and that the group can no longer be blindly supported. This gives food for thought to shareholders that opposed the resolution. They will not be able to keep pretending that Total’s climate ambition is close to what is needed. We will analyze the votes of French asset managers, like AXA and Amundi. The gaps between speeches and reality will be exposed” concludes Lucie Pinson.

Press contact:
Lucie Pinson | | 0033 6 79 54 37 15


(1) These pourcentages reflect the votes for and against the resolution. Abstention is not factored in the calculation. Votes are anonymous. However, the last few days, the biggest British Fund, Nest, and two of the main Australian pension funds have made public their intention to vote for the resolution. It will be possible to see the votes of some of the biggest shareholders, like AXA or Amundi, that publish their votes at the end of the general assembly season.
(2) See Reclaim Finance and Greenpeace’s press release on the resolution.
(3) See Total’s press release.
(4) Total’s CEO tried to deny its duty to act on scope 3 at the General Assembly, even if the group itself recognized its responsibility for it in Europe.
(5) See Reclaim Finance’s analysis of the stakes: Time to vote for the climate resolution at Total’s AGM.
(6) See Reclaim Finance’s press release on BNP Paribas’ decision.