Cyril Marcilhacy | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Paris-based energy major had sought investor support with a motion on its environmental goals shortly after some of its peers in the oil and gas industry suffered a series of historic defeats in boardrooms and the courts.
Total’s motion was supported by 91.88% of shareholders, the company said. The level of support for the company’s climate strategy is considered an important indicator, given that a growing minority of investors from other large oil companies had challenged management to demand much faster climate action.
Total shares rose around 0.25% in London.
It comes at a time when the world’s largest issuing companies are under immense pressure to set short, medium and long term goals in line with the Paris Agreement. The climate agreement, ratified by nearly 200 countries in 2015, is considered essential to avert an irreversible climate crisis.
Earlier this week, three energy giants found themselves in the headlines within 24 hours in what climate activists described as a “crushing” day for Big Oil.
Just hours on Wednesday, shareholders of US oil giant ExxonMobil backed a small activist hedge fund in overhauling the company’s board of directors, investors in US energy company Chevron defied management in a crucial vote on the climate and a Dutch court ordered Royal Dutch Shell to take much more aggressive action to reduce its carbon emissions.
The confluence of events reflected the waning patience of investors against the backdrop of a broader push for oil and gas companies to align their climate goals with the Paris Agreement.
In 2018, the Norwegian Statoil was renamed Equinor in the same spirit to reflect its aim to diversify away from fossil fuels.
The International Energy Agency warned earlier this month that energy groups must halt all new oil and gas projects this year if the world is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
However, Total’s Pouyanne said at Friday’s annual meeting of shareholders that ending new fossil fuel projects would be a mistake.
Total’s climate strategy aims to achieve carbon neutrality in all global operations by 2050, but in particular it does not include so-called Scope 3 emissions – the carbon emissions of its own operations and those of of its suppliers.
The company has committed to reducing the average carbon intensity of energy products used worldwide by Total’s customers by 60% by 2050. In the meantime, it aims for a 15% reduction by 2030 and 35% by 2040.
A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that Shell must reduce its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels. The verdict also said that Shell is responsible for Scope 3 emissions. The move is believed to be the first time in history that a company is legally obliged to align its policies with the Paris Agreement.
A Shell spokesperson said the company expected to appeal what it called a “disappointing” court ruling.