© Denis Allard / Réa
A thousand business leaders and investors gathered at the Business & Climate Summit held over two days in Paris. Total’s Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Pouyanné, took part in the group discussions and highlighted Total's efforts to fight climate change.
"We're part of the problem, but we're also part of the solution." Right off the bat Patrick Pouyanné, Total's Chief Executive Officer, set the tone. He acknowledged that petroleum products and gas are responsible for more than a third of global carbon emissions, but immediately pointed out that Total has every intention of doing its part to fight climate change.
To start with, by continuing to produce more natural gas, which is the lowest-carbon fossil fuel. In 2014, Total produced as much natural gas as oil. For Mr. Pouyanné, that's where the energy transition begins. Because fossil fuels will continue to make up a significant share of the energy mix, if only to meet growing global demand and the needs of the two billion people worldwide who still lack access to energy.
Producing more gas won't be enough, which is why Total has already started to invest in renewables. As its CEO says: “Energies should not be pitted against one another. They work in partnership." Total's 60% interest in the U.S. company SunPower makes it the world's second-ranking solar operator. In biofuels, the company also plans to invest to convert its La Mède refinery in France to a world-class biorefinery.
Another initiative highlighted is the fact that, between 2005 and 2014, Total halved carbon emissions from flaring at its facilities, excluding the initial start-up phase. The company won't stop there: "We have made a commitment to the World Bank to stop routine flaring by 2030."
Lastly, with 200 days to go before COP21, Mr. Pouyanné is calling for a global price for carbon. "We must be engaged. Our actions can influence the entire business world." Total has been assessing capital expenditure based on a carbon price of €25 a metric ton for nearly 10 years.
The Five Focuses of Total's Strategy to Fight Climate Change
- Increase the share of natural gas in our portfolio.
- Invest in solar power production.
- Improve our energy efficiency. This includes our goal of zero routine flaring by 2030.
- Facilitate access to energy through practical steps to fight energy poverty. The first big success of the Total Access to Energy program — by May 2015 five million people have been reached via sales of Awango by Total solar lamps.
- Engaging in international climate initiatives, such as the U.N. Global Compact’s Business Criteria on Carbon Pricing, which encourages businesses to put a price on carbon, and the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative bringing together eight leading oil companies.