TotalEnergies hit by criminal complaint over climate turmoil

TotalEnergies SE’s bosses were hit by a criminal complaint from climate change activists over their alleged role in disasters sparked by global warming.

Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne and other board members of the French energy giant were targeted in Tuesday’s filing by the three non-governmental organizations at the Paris Criminal Court.

The public prosecutor has the discretionary power to decide whether to dismiss the case or open a judicial investigation, Bloom, Alliance Santé Planétaire, Nuestro Futuro, and eight individuals who jointly filed the complaint said in a joint statement.

Offenses such as damaging biodiversity, involuntary manslaughter and deliberately endangering the lives of others are each punishable by at least one year of imprisonment and tens of thousands of euros, the plaintiffs said.

A representative of TotalEnergies declined to comment as the company had yet to be officially notified of the suit.

The climate suit against TotalEnergies is a reminder that oil and gas majors are increasingly coming under pressure from environmental groups and activists over their role in providing climate-warming fossil fuels. In 2021, a Dutch court ruled that Shell Plc must reduce emissions much more than planned by the UK company, which is appealing the judgment.

Governments too are increasingly targeted for their alleged failings. In a landmark ruling last month, the European Court of Human Rights said Switzerland failed to protect its citizens from the ravages of climate change. –BLOOMBERG