On January 3, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) welcomed Total’s confirmation that it would refrain from conducting operations in World Heritage List sites, calling it “a landmark decision by one of the major oil companies.”
The pledge was originally made by Christophe de Margerie in June 2013, when he said that Total “will refrain from prospecting or exploiting oil and gas in natural sites inscribed on the World Heritage List as at June 4, 2013.” This stance was reaffirmed in a letter sent to UNESCO in December 2013.
“This commitment is another building block of our environmental policy,” said Bertrand de Nadaillac, Senior Vice President, Environment & Health at Total. “We have long been engaged in protecting biodiversity and will continue to safeguard ecosystems wherever we operate.”
Total introduced an official Biodiversity Policy in 2005. It is predicated on minimizing our environmental footprint and paying special attention to areas whose biodiversity is particularly rich or vulnerable.
Some environmental NGOs have interpreted the exploration license in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a sign that Total intends to operate in Virunga National Park, home to the largest gorilla population in the world. But our response is unequivocal: we made it clear in May 2012 that we would not operate in the park.