May 25, 2023

French oil major responsible for more climate pollution in 2022 than France – its own emissions targets allow same level of greenhouse gas pollution through 2030

[Paris, France] – New analysis released ahead of TotalEnergies’ annual shareholder meeting shows the French oil and gas major used record 2022 profits to double down on fossil fuel investments and rates the company’s climate plans as grossly insufficient compared to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Released by Oil Change International (OCI), Big Oil Reality Check 2023: TotalEnergies highlights that the company ranked third in the world for approving new oil and gas expansion in 2022.

Briefing Summary:

  • In 2022, TotalEnergies ranked third globally and first among international oil and gas majors in approving new oil and gas expansion – sanctioning new fields containing more than 1.2 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) in reserves.[1]

  • For every dollar that TotalEnergies reported spending on ‘low-carbon energies’, which include fossil gas, in 2022, the company spent a combined 8 dollars on investments in oil and gas and on rewarding shareholders with dividends and buy-backs.[2]

  • Cumulatively from 2023 to 2025, the company is on track to approve new projects that could lead to over 1,600 million tonnes of new carbon pollution over their lifetimes.[3]

  • TotalEnergies reported generating 429 million tonnes (Mt) of carbon-dioxide (CO2) pollution through its fossil-fuel dominated business activities in 2022. [4] By comparison, France’s gross national emissions in 2022 were estimated at 408 Mt CO2 equivalent (CO2e).[5] That is, by its own reporting, TotalEnergies as a company generated more worldwide carbon pollution than its home country of France.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has stated that approving new oil and gas fields is incompatible with the global warming limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. The urgency to transition to clean, renewable energy has been emphasized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which calls for a substantial decline in global fossil fuel use by 2030. TotalEnergies’ CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, has made statements indicating the company’s intention to continue exploiting more oil and gas resources.

David Tong, Oil Change International Global Industry Campaign Manager, said: 
“TotalEnergies’ plans and investments are strikingly inconsistent with the urgent need to phase out fossil fuels. The company’s continued focus on oil and gas production undermines efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Peer reviewed research shows that burning just the oil, gas, and coal in developed, operating fields means failure for the Paris Agreement.

“Despite this reality, TotalEnergies still plans to increase its oil and gas production in the coming years. This is completely out of step with the scientific consensus on the need for a rapid decline in fossil fuel use.

“Despite reporting record net profits of USD 36.2 billion in 2022, more than double its 2021 profits, TotalEnergies has primarily directed its investments towards fossil fuels and made massive shareholder payouts, investing only a small fraction in so-called ‘low-carbon energies’ projects. For every dollar that TotalEnergies reported spending on ‘low-carbon energies’ in 2022, the company spent a combined 8 dollars on investments in oil and gas and on rewarding shareholders with dividends and buy-backs.[2]

“TotalEnergies’ emissions targets fall far short of what is required to limit global warming. The company’s 2030 targets allow company-wide emissions to remain flat between 2022 and 2030, rather than falling as necessary to align with a 1.5-degree Celsius pathway.”[6]

Romain Ioualalen, Global Policy campaign manager at Oil Change International Research said:
“Our analysis shows that TotalEnergies is not a company in transition, but still deeply tied into fossil fuel dependence. What’s more, the company remains involved in oil and gas projects that have been linked to serious human rights abuses. These are not the actions of a responsible, ethical company.

“TotalEnergies’ actions starkly contradict the urgent reality we face in addressing the climate crisis. The company’s persistent investments in fossil fuels and its failure to align with the Paris Agreement are deeply concerning. For the French government’s commitment to a global phase out of fossil fuels to be credible, it must stop supportingTotalEnergies’ ongoing fossil fuel expansion, including through its diplomacy.”

Lucie Pinson, Director of Reclaim Finance said : 
“TotalEnergies’ climate strategy is far from aligned with a 1.5°C scenario as recent analysis shows. The figures leave no room for investors and banks to argue that TotalEnergies is a company in transition that needs to be supported. Financial institutions that want to save what little climate credibility they have left will tomorrow vote against TotalEnergies bogus climate plan and in favour of the shareholder climate resolution. Those who are really serious about playing a role in the prevention of a climate breakdown will suspend all new services to the French major for as long as TotalEnergies ranks among the top oil and gas developers worldwide with skyrocketing fossil fuel production. Those who don’t will be targeted by the Defund TotalEnergies campaign. [7]”

Lorette Philippot, Private Finance Campaigner at Friends of the Earth France, said: 
“On the eve of Total’s annual shareholder meeting, this new report shows forcefully that the French oil and gas giant has absolutely no intention of changing course. Total is preparing to celebrate its superprofits tomorrow, made in disregard of the climate emergency and human rights, and boosted by the war in Ukraine and inflation. Its plan for the future: to invest almost all of these record profits in more and more fossil fuels and false solutions, and to make its shareholders profit handsomely.

“But in the face of Total’s crass impunity, citizen mobilization is intensifying and has also set a date for tomorrow, to block this AGM and to carry the voices of Total’s victims. [8]”

Hugo Viel, Campaigner at 
“Despite the recent deployment of a strong greenwashing strategy, Total continues to fail to implement a strategy aligned with the Paris agreement objectives. Total and its CEO Patrick Pouyanné are stubbornly pushing humanity towards a climate and social catastrophe that each of their fossil fuel projects continues to make even more disastrous despite repeated alarms from the scientific community.

“This report clearly shows that Total’s record profits are fuelling the climate crisis. At a time when the need for investment in the energy transition has never been greater, it is time for the public authorities to tax Total’s super-profits and finally invest in a new energy model.”


Notes to the editor:
OCI provided an advance copy of this briefing to TotalEnergies for comment before publication. In the company’s response of May 24, 2023, TotalEnergies expressed its “general disagreement with a one-way, systematically negative analysis which leads to a gross mischaracterization of our strategy” and said it “strongly disagrees with the methodology and the figures mentioned by OCI.”
TotalEnergies added that it “believes that new oil projects are needed to meet continued strong demand, maintain prices at an acceptable level and create the conditions for a ‘just’ transition that gives people time to change their energy consumption.”

TotalEnergies’ full reaction to OCI’s briefing is available here.

  1. Based on Rystad Energy data (April 2023) on TotalEnergies’ approval of new oil and gas reserves in 2022, as shown in Figure 1 of the briefing. The company’s 3rd ranking among all companies for expansion approved in 2022 comes from Oil Change International analysis of Rystad Energy data first published in, Investing in Disaster (November 2022).

  2. OCI analysis of TotalEnergies’ 2022 Annual Financial Report, p. 59 and p. 375. See Figure 3 in the briefing.

  3. Oil Change International analysis of Rystad Energy data first published in, Investing in Disaster (November 2022).

  4. TotalEnergies reported scope 1 plus 2 emissions of 40 MtCO2e and scope 3 emissions of 389 MtCO2e in 2022, together totaling 429 MtCO2e (2022 Annual Financial Report, pp. 376-377).

  5. CITEPA, “Emissions de gaz à effet de serre en France: estimations provisoires sur l’ensemble de l’année 2022 avec le baromètre des émissions mensuelles du Citepa, édition mars 2023,” March 30, 2023.

  6. Reported company-wide emissions could still be as high as 429 MtCO2e in 2030, given TotalEnergies targets Scope 3 emissions below 400 MtCO2e and Scope 1+2 emissions of 25-30 MtCO2e by 2030 (2022 Annual Financial Report, pp. 376-377).


  8. A coalition of nine organizations and collectives warned in an op-ed published on April 26, 2023 that Total’s AGM will not take place.