By Greenpeace, Youth for Climate, Grandparents for the Climate, Grootouders voor het Klimaat, Financité, Médecins du Monde, Gang des Vieux en Angère
Qis there a similarity between a classical music competition and a popular race that brings together thousands of runners? At first glance, not much. However, when we took a closer look, we discovered that the events were both sponsored by a well -known oil company: TotalEnergies. When we know the very problematic position of TotalEnergies in Russia and its current and historical responsibility in the climate crisis, it poses a big problem.
Both events enjoy an important reputation among the Belgian population. Whether it is music or sport, they give a positive image and refer to the good values of society. By participating, TotalEnergies seeks to strengthen its image to the public and develop its influence with the general public. The very spirit of the two organizations was tainted.
The burning of fossil fuels is responsible for 89% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The climate crisis we are experiencing is putting our safety at risk. As UN Secretary -General Antonio Guterres said in April of this year, “our addiction to fossil fuels is killing us”. Fossil energy companies have an unprecedented historical and current responsibility in this crisis.
TotalEnergies has had full knowledge of the cause of the link between the burning of fossil fuels and global warming since 1971
TotalEnergies now focuses a large part of its communication on what it calls climate and renewable energy goals. However, the company’s reality remains widely linked to fossil fuels, mainly oil and gas. Thus, fossil fuels still represent 90% of its activity and 75% of its investments. Its new climate plan is very far from respecting the goals set in the Paris agreement and the recommendations of the international energy agency, which recommends ending investments in fossil fuels from 2021.
Problematic French brand activity continues to make headlines. TotalEnergies, for example, is currently involved in the EACOP oil project in Uganda and Tanzania. Problematic at all levels, it involves creating a massive heated pipeline 1,500 km long (the longest in the world). This is a massive human and environmental disaster for the entire region. More than 100,000 people are seen to be directly hindered in their agricultural activity. The project threatens the extinction of species classified on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) red list and threatens contamination of East Africa’s two largest freshwater reserves, lakes Victoria and Albert.
TotalEnergies and the war in Ukraine
Exploitation of fossil fuels is also a source of much conflict in the world. This is the case today in the war in Ukraine led by Vladimir Putin. European Union countries have spent approximately 1 billion euros a day since the war began to buy fossil fuels made in Russia.
This money did not directly fund Vladimir Putin and his war against the Ukrainian people. Currently, TotalEnergies is the last major oil and gas company in the West that has not announced the end of its activities in Russia. It has a huge financial stake in Russia’s oil and gas groups in the hands of oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin. Whether it likes it or not, maintaining its investments exposes the risk of complicity in war crimes.
The war in Ukraine also allowed energy suppliers like TotalEnergies to reap huge profits with rising oil and gas prices. These profits directly benefit shareholders. And this while Belgian households are severely affected and more and more are unable to pay their bills.
Improve its image
The multinational is using the positive and popular image of 20 km of Brussels and the Queen Elisabeth Competition to restore the image tainted by its activities. Many other events or institutions are concerned: 10 Miles of Antwerp, Teach for Belgium, the Museum of Art and History … As the tobacco industry has done in the past, which pretends to be a philanthropic company in social service and sport, TotalEnergies aims only to ensure the social acceptability of its destructive industrial activities.
In a dozen organizations, we challenged the organizers of two events to invite them to no longer associate themselves with a company with such responsibility in the climate crisis. So far, despite the open dialogue, our requests have still not been heard.