This morning, Total SE reacted to the “Pipeline of Pollution: Total responsible, finance complicit?” report published by Reclaim Finance and Greenpeace France over a month ago. We are guided by accuracy and the truth, and have therefore put together this response to the points raised:
1/ First, Total SE restates its ambition, not a commitment, to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This is nothing new. Our response mainly concerns the three other points made
2/ Total SE refers to the graph on page 12 of our report, which estimates their scope 3 emissions in Europe and worldwide between 2015 and 2050, comparing these emissions to the trajectory needed to follow a 1.5°C scenario.
- This graph is taken from Oil Change International’s September report, Big Oil Reality Check. Reclaim Finance and Greenpeace France have added Total SE’s estimated emissions in 2030 to highlight the gap between the company’s emissions and their carbon budget to align with a 1.5°C trajectory.
- Total’s emissions trajectory is estimated from Rystad Energy’s data on Total’s hydrocarbon production forecasts to August 2020. Rystad Energy is an independent energy research and business intelligence company that provides data, tools, analysis, and consulting services to its clients and is used by many companies.
- This graph shows that Total’s scope 3 emissions would increase to 500MT CO2e in 2030 from 410MT in 2015 and that they would overshoot the level needed to meet a 1.5°C trajectory by 200MT.
- Total responds by quoting from page 16 of its Climate 2020 report: “For those Scope 3 emissions, the Group is setting new 2030 targets: In Europe, a 30% reduction in absolute emissions from 2015 levels – a major step toward neutrality by 2050. Worldwide, a reduction in absolute emissions from 2015 levels, despite the anticipated growth in customer energy demand over the decade to come.”
- First, it should be noted that Total’s response to Rystad’s data is limited to words and fails to set a numerical target for the reduction in its global emissions. It could be an insignificant drop, but that would be enough for them to publicise a decrease in emissions all the same. Investors should demand transparency on this point and ask Total SE whether the Group intends to reduce its CO2e emissions by around 170 million tonnes by 2030 compared to 2015 levels in order to reach a level of 240MT in 2030.
- We must therefore turn to the other available sources. Given that Europe is not in fact separate from the world, Total commits to reducing its “global” absolute emissions, but not to reducing its absolute emissions outside Europe. Our report makes this distinction and indicates that while Total intends to reduce its emissions in Europe by 2030, it is expected to increase them outside Europe over the next decade.
- Total tells us nothing more: “Total has therefore committed that worldwide scope 3 indirect emissions in 2030 will be lower compared to 2015 […] This commitment is notably made possible by the 30% reduction target in scope 3 emissions in Europe by 2030.” Except that Total’s stated absolute reduction in scope 3 emissions in Europe, 75 MT/year, is misleading. See the following point.
3/ Total writes that its reduction in scope 3 emissions in Europe was 256 MT in 2015 period. However, Total has committed to reducing these emissions by 30% by 2050, which equals a total of 76.8 MT. In the previous point, Total spoke of reducing scope 3 emissions by 75MT/year, however, it plans to reduce them by this amount over 15 years, i.e., by 5MT/year. This is certainly less impressive, though it is at least consistent with the Climate Action 100+’s assessment of Total’s climate performance. This “Climate Action 100+ Net-Zero Company Benchmark” shows that Total fulfils only one of the nine indicators evaluated—none on emission reduction targets.
4/ Concerning the calculation of the carbon intensity of its products, Total states it factors in “emissions related to the use of energy products by customers”  but adds that “products for non-fuel use (bitumen, lubricants, plastics, etc.) are not taken into account”.
Only CO2e emissions related to end-use by its customers are included in the calculation of this indicator. In other words, in addition to emissions from “bitumen, lubricants, plastics, etc.”, emissions from products sold at an intermediate stage would not be counted. Investors should demand transparency on this point as well.
More generally, since Total SE states in its reports that it only takes into account item 11 (out of 15) of the methodology published by IPIECA to calculate its Scope 3 emissions, the Group would improve its transparency by providing more exhaustive information on the emissions (not) accounted for in its calculations, and in particular on the fact that it limits its reporting to one indicator.
Furthermore, we should not forget that regardless of how its emissions are calculated, a 15% reduction in its carbon intensity by 2030 compared to 2015 – i.e., ~ 1% per year – and 35% by 2040, remains well below what is required to limit the rise in temperature to less than 2°C (a reduction in the carbon intensity of ~ 90% according to Carbone 41).
In conclusion, we confirm our report’s conclusions, validated by the benchmark published by the Climate Action 100+: Total does not intend to significantly reduce its harmful impact on the planet and align itself with a 1.5°C trajectory in the short term. Shareholders would therefore be correct in voting against its climate strategy and in tabling their own resolution to urge the oil company to be more transparent and ambitious on climate issues.