TotalEnergies has sued Greenpeace France and climate consulting firm Factor-X over the environmental group’s report, which concluded that TotalEnergies may have largely underestimated its 2019 greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Greenpeace’s report, published in November 2022, TotalEnergies’ carbon emissions could be almost four times higher than what the company is reporting. Greenpeace and Factor-X accused TotalEnergies of having emitted about 1.64 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019 but only disclosing 455 million tonnes.

In response, TotalEnergies issued a statement saying that “the methodology used by the authors of the Greenpeace report is, at the very least, dubious”.

According to TotalEnergies: “The calculations take no account of […] integration throughout the oil and gas value chains, and Greenpeace is therefore counting the emissions caused by the fuel combustion in these value chains several times. Applying the same reasoning to all the businesses that produce, transport, refine, trade and sell fossil fuels would lead to a total that is several times higher than the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions”.

TotalEnergies served a civil complaint on 28 April, stating that the report contains “false and misleading information”. The company is asking for all mentions of the report to be removed and cease all future references under a penalty of $2,209 (€2,000) in fines per day, plus one symbolic euro in damages.

A first procedural hearing will take place on 7 September at the Paris judicial court in order to set a calendar for arguments, but it will be several months before a judge begins ruling on the merits of the case.

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By GlobalData

“A question of principal”

Greenpeace has accused TotalEnergies’ complaint of being a “deliberate attempt to silence critics”. According to an Instagram post from Wednesday, Greenpeace believes the decision is an attempt to “silence questions about its responsibility for the climate crisis” ahead of its general meeting of shareholders on 16 May.  

TotalEnergies’ activist shareholders are expected to issue complaints during this month’s meeting on the company’s climate change measures.

A TotalEnergies spokesperson said that the case is “a question of principle”. They went on to say that: “A judgment from the court will not prevent Greenpeace from continuing to criticise us and our climate strategy if they wish, but will remind them that public debate on issues with such high stakes concerning a listed company require rigor and good faith”.

Greenpeace France Director Jean-François Julliard said: “TotalEnergies wants to drag Greenpeace through a long legal process […] erase our reports and prevent us from denouncing their misleading and climate-killing practices […] We will continue to lift the veil on their responsibility in global warming”.