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As crucial climate negotiations are underway at COP28, and the Multinationals Observatory are launching a new report outlining why it is necessary to reclaim control over the fossil fuel industry strategies for the world to transition to clean energy, and how to do it.

For decades, TotalEnergies and other fossil fuel giants have tried to make us believe that there is no alternative to the current fossil fuel industry, and that they are part of the solution to climate change. A record number of close to 2500 fossil fuel lobbyists, including CEO of TotalEnergies Patrick Pouyanné, are at COP28 this year to push this version of the story. Their multiple strategies to delay meaningful climate action, as well as their plans to continue to expand their fossil fuel production and their marginal investments in renewable energy, show that the energy transition we urgently need to tackle the climate crisis won’t come from them.

Multinationals like TotalEnergies thrive on the illusion of being sovereign entities, independent of states. But their power rests on legal, political, and economic conditions—conditions that can be altered. The report delves into three ways to steer TotalEnergies towards a fossil fuel-free future. These strategies aren’t mutually exclusive and might benefit from a combined approach: 

  • A comprehensive climate, environmental, financial and lobbying regulatory reform package in order to ensure TotalEnergies serves public interest, and not just the ones of its leaders and shareholders. 
  • A democratic takeover of the company from within, so that employees and stakeholders beyond only shareholders drive the company’s strategy. 
  • A public takeover of TotalEnergies to transform the corporation into a public interest organisation free from the pressures of the financial market, with an inclusive governance and democratic approach to driving a process of exiting fossil fuel production. 

With this report, we aim to open up a dialogue on an idea which may seem radical but must be included in global climate discussions: if we are to truly start phasing out fossil fuels, we must tackle the economic and political weight of the fossil fuel majors.

Global heating and its impacts are accelerating, just as war and pandemics have done, and this could be a trigger for change, with previously unthinkable scenarios quickly becoming credible or even unavoidable. We want to challenge political leaders to imagine them, and to implement them.

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