TotalEnergies is preparing for a new general meeting (AG) under tension, which the demonstrators of the climate cause will see shaken up on Friday May 24, at a time when shareholders must decide on climate issues and the reappointment of CEO, Patrick Pouyanné .

From 9 a.m., five hours before the scheduled start of the AGM, Greenpeace activists displayed, on a building a few hundred meters from the group’s headquarters, a banner showing Mr. Pouyanné “wanted by civil society”.

The police are present in large numbers in the La Défense business district, where the fourth largest oil major in the world and the largest French company by profit, 100 years old this year, will hold its annual high mass. Gates have been installed in front of the entrance.

TotalEnergies says it chose its 48-story tower, rather than a Parisian room, to avoid “immobilizing a district of Paris” – as during the 2023 edition, punctuated by clashes between demonstrators and police.

« Climaticide »

A year later, the pressure has not subsided. In the streets or in court, the group remains under fire from criticism, with climate defenders accusing it of worsening global warming and harming biodiversity and human rights, due to its activities in gas and oil.

“We denounce the expansion strategy of TotalEnergies, which is always oriented towards the development of fossils, despite a green discourse,” explains Edina Ifticene, campaigner against fossil fuels at Greenpeace.

An argument shared by more than 300 scientists, including experts mandated by the United Nations (UN), signatories to an article in Le Monde describing TotalEnergies’ strategy as “climaticide”.

Organizations have called for shaking up the AG. Among them, the Extinction Rebellion movement, which demands “the abandonment” of flagship projects in Uganda-Tanzania, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea and, recommendation of the International Energy Agency, “the cessation of any investment in new fossil projects”. Between “300 and 600” demonstrators are expected, according to a police source, who expects confrontations between environmentalists and shareholders.

Faced with the “risk” of disturbances to public order, the Paris police prefect issued an order prohibiting undeclared demonstrations around the Coupole tower.

On the agenda, shareholders will be asked to vote on TotalEnergies’ climate strategy, with some investors also calling for a more ambitious energy transition.

Pouyanné looks towards New York

Last year, at TotalEnergies, a purely consultative resolution from activist shareholders received 30.4% of the votes. It called on the company to align its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets with the 2015 Paris Agreement, to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era ( the world is already at around 1.2°C). This time, no consultative resolution is announced.

A coalition of shareholders claiming 0.9% of the capital demanded, in vain, even before the courts, a non-binding resolution aiming “to put an end to the accumulation of the functions of president and general manager” occupied by Patrick Pouyanné, to maintain it to the sole position of general manager.

An unthinkable choice for the board of directors, attached to the “strategic stability” of the company which earned $21.4 billion in profits in 2023, after $20.5 billion in 2022, and will propose to shareholders to reappoint the CEO for a fourth term.

The fiery leader at the helm for ten years will chair this meeting against a backdrop of controversy after his declarations on a possible relocation of the main listing of the group from Paris to the New York Stock Exchange, triggering the wrath of the political class, from Bruno Le Maire to Emmanuel Macron.

As if to appease the critics, he mentioned Thursday in Le Figaro a “translation error”: he did not want to talk about a main listing on Wall Street but about a transformation into classic shares of securities already traded in a form reserved for foreign companies. Mr. Pouyanné highlights the fact that Americans buy more shares than Europeans, constrained by sustainable investment rules.

The CEO repeats that TotalEnergies is “the oil group most involved in the energy transition”. A third of its investments are dedicated to low-carbon energy, including 95% renewable electricity.

But, in September, the think tank Carbon Tracker estimated that “only” the Italian oil company Eni had emissions reduction targets “potentially” aligned with the Paris agreement. TotalEnergies came second before Repsol and BP, far ahead of the Saudi Aramco and the American ExxonMobil.