French energy giant TotalEnergies is suing Greenpeace for a nominal €1 over the environmental group’s claims that the company likely “drastically understated” its greenhouse gas emissions.
Greenpeace said in a November report that TotalEnergies’ carbon emissions in 2019 “could be nearly four times higher” than what was reported.
In response, the company said Greenpeace and the consultancy firm Factor-X, which carried out the study, had spread “false and misleading information based on a controversial methodology and including numerous errors and approximations”.
Greenpeace said TotalEnergies had filed a civil lawsuit against it in an attempt to silence its critics, despite the burden of legal fees.
“This civil process is not entirely harmless. Total(Energies) could have sued us for defamation” in a criminal court, said Jean-Francois Julliard, head of Greenpeace France.
Instead of “we know we’re in for a few years” written between both parties.
A spokesman for TotalEnergies claimed the company was simply disputing miscalculations that led to “inconsistent results”.
Juilliard said that at least the lawsuit, which will be heard by a Paris civil court, will allow the correct calculation of TotalEnergies’ actual carbon emissions to be discussed.
The same court was also charged with hearing another complaint, this time brought by Greenpeace against TotalEnergies, accusing the energy company of “environmental laundering” through false advertising.
Many companies have pledged to achieve the “net zero” level of greenhouse gas emissions needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius under the 2015 Paris climate deal.
But campaigners say many don’t include their indirect greenhouse gas emissions, which are hard to quantify but make up most of their greenhouse gas footprint.
So a company that only counts emissions from operating its oil wells or powering its offices – but not from the millions of cars that run on gasoline made from its oil and the home heaters that burn its gas – is ignoring the largest share of its emissions .