Environmental activists blocked the general assembly of TotalÉnergies in Paris. The demonstrators urge the oil group to listen to science.
Each year, the general meetings of oil companies are a crucial point for environmental activists. This morning, a group of demonstrators thus blocked the Salle Pleyel, where the general assembly of TotalÉnergies was held.
From dawn, a handful of them sat peacefully in front of the place chosen by the oil group. Their goal: to denounce the polluting projects of TotalÉnergies in the world, which are carried out despite scientific advice.
Thus, one could read slogans such as: “Total destroyed, the banks finance, we resist”. Another sign, very common this time, explained: “Listen to the scientists, not a single fossil project”.
A poster also deplored the consequences of oil exploitation and the omnipresence of fossil fuels: “Floods, heat waves, droughts, pandemics… the world according to Total”.
TotalÉnergies was also targeted by a slogan denouncing its desire to minimize the pollution of its activity. “Total, 50 years of climate denial”, brandished some demonstrators. Among these, among others, scientists and activists who came from Uganda to protest against Total.
Indeed, we learned at the end of 2021 that the group knew perfectly well the consequences linked to its activity for 50 years, but that it had done nothing to change this, or even try to minimize its polluting emissions. We remember that in 2020, its CEO Patrick Pouyanné had blamed consumers.
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The EACOP project in the sights of activists
In addition to these hard-hitting sentences, some sentences were more aimed at the projects of the oil group. It could thus read: “EACOP, last pipeline before the end of the world”.
The EACOP project is a heated cross-border oil pipeline, which extends over 1440 kilometers. It leaves from a drilling area in Uganda to reach the port of Tanga, in Tanzania. It aims to extract 200,000 barrels of oil every day between 2025 and 2045.
The most problematic aspect of this pipeline is that it is heated to 50 degrees to prevent oil solidification, which will contribute to emitting 34.3 million tons of CO2 every year on this project alone. Over its entire operation, this represents 686 million tonnes of CO2.
In addition to these emissions, the worst consequence of this pipeline project is at the level of biodiversity. According to a report by Survival and Friends of the Earth, 2000 km² of protected wildlife habitats are threatened.
In addition, the pipeline will cross 35 rivers and two lakes, including the Lake Victoria Basin, the second largest freshwater reservoir in the world. The fear is based on the risk of leaks or incidents that could spill oil in these places.
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Activists dislodged with tear gas canisters
Despite the peaceful aspect of the demonstration, since the activists had simply sat down in front of the room this morning at sunrise, the police intervened with a lot of tear gas canisters.
Journalist Clément Lanot filmed a tear gas canister thrown in the middle of the activists seated to dislodge them. “In several years of covering civil disobedience actions, I had never seen this technique”, laments Clément Lanot on Twitter. The police also assaulted an LCI journalist, who had nevertheless announced her status.
Subsequently, we saw classic exchanges between shareholders, activists and environmental MPs. NUPES MP Manon Aubry showed videos of them being insulted by some of them.
We remember that last year, shareholders had alpagé young activists. One of them even replied to a demonstrator, worried about the climate: “Die and don’t piss off, […] everyone hates you”.
But beyond these scuffles, we obviously expect to know what was the content of the GA. Because last year, a wind of rebellion had blown on the meeting of shareholders of TotalÉnergies.
Some of them wanted to see the company respect its climate commitments. There is no doubt that in an increasingly fragile context for the oil industry, this debate will return to the shareholders’ table.
ALERT – The gendarmes drop a tear gas canister in the middle of a group of seated, handcuffed and non-violent activists to evacuate them.
Action to block the AG of Total. pic.twitter.com/gf1dSp83XE
— Clément Lanot (@ClementLanot) May 26, 2023
The rue de la salle Pleyel is blocked by CRS trucks which prevent a hundred environmental activists from blocking the AG de #TotalEnergies. The atmosphere is tense, after the activists were gassed this morning pic.twitter.com/62ZHZ8efKt
— Audrey Garric (@audreygarric) May 26, 2023