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Activists demand climate action as TotalEnergies annual general meeting kicks off

Activist Patience Nabukalu, who heads 'Fridays For Future in Uganda', protested in Paris on May 26, 2023.   -  
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Cleared / AFP


Demonstrators gathered Friday (May 26) in Paris outside of the building hosting the annual general assembly of French energy giant TotalEnergies.

Bellowing slogans such as ‘tax the wealthy’, climate activists wanted to keep pressure on the company to reduce its carbon footprints.

The head of Fridays For Future in Uganda had made the trip. Total is jointly developing an oil project in the country.

"I've moved all the way like over 5.000 miles to come to the Total AGM because it's important to people like me," Patience Nabukalu said.

"I'm so grateful that I'm the voice to the voiceless, a person who can fight for their communities, because our leaders have just proven to us that they are not. They don't care about the people, but rather the profits."

Protesters accused Total of crime against humanity as many fear new fossil fuel projects will prevent the world from limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with climate goals set in Paris in 2015.

Speaking inside of salle Pleyel, TotalEnergies CEO defended the company's strategy.

"I would like remind everyone that the global demand for oil is growing even if TotalEnergies didn not meet this demand, others will do so for us," Patrick Pouyanne told his audience.

"Even though we can act -and we do act- on our customers' demands by diversifying our ever-evolving energy offers towards lower carbon energies"

The company wanted to avoid the chaos of last year when activists prevented some shareholders from attending the annual meeting.

This year, the firm placed two-metre (6.5-foot) high plexiglass screens to separate off speakers on stage from members of the public at the concert hall.

It also forbade attendees and journalists from using their smartphones inside the venue.

Climate campaigners are growing impatient with big polluters over their impact on the planet.

During the annual shareholders' meeting of British group Shell on Tuesday (May 23), activists sang "Go to hell Shell!"

Energy giants posted record profits last year as the war in Ukraine broke out.

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