Five Goldman Environmental Prize Winners urge financial players to stop supporting TotalEnergies’ climate-wrecking strategy

Brussels / Paris / Berlin / South Africa, 7 February 2023

On the eve of the announcement of TotalEnergies’ annual results, five winners of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize call on financial institutions to stop supporting the French major’s oil and gas expansion in Africa which tramples on climate, biodiversity and human rights. Today, they will present their call in the European Parliament.

The Goldman Prize winners have written to 78 banks, investors and insurers to demand they commit to stop supporting, either directly or indirectly, TotalEnergies’ expansion strategy in Africa, where the French company is developing a number of projects, including the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Uganda and Tanzania and the planned exploitation of Luiperd and Brulppada, two major offshore gas fields in South Africa (1).

Lucie Pinson, director and founder of Reclaim Finance, said: “The International Energy Agency is clear – there is no room for new oil and gas projects in a net zero world and civil society organisations all across Africa are calling for a just energy transition towards a green energy future. We are determined to make their call heard and demand that it is respected by European companies and financial institutions. Banks, insurers and investors must step back from TotalEnergies’ plans to blow the world’s carbon budget and lock Africa into the dirty energy sources from the past.”

Two months later, 11 financial institutions have responded to the letter, with just 4 making a clear commitment not to support TotalEnergies’ projects (2). 

Claire Nouvian, founder of French NGO BLOOM, said: “Each announcement of record profits by TotalEnergies only serves to accelerate climate chaos and the destruction of nature. Every dividend paid to TotalEnergies’ shareholders has a corollary in the destruction of the natural world, destroying the very conditions that make life possible on our planet. It is more necessary than ever to legislate and stop the growth and lies of the oil and gas majors”  

Two of the Goldman winners come from South Africa, where TotalEnergies plans to invest US$3 billion in developing reserves in waters south of the Cape, which will likely devastate South Africa’s marine animals and ecosystems and endanger the many coastal communities who depend on them. 

Liziwe McDaid, founder of the South African organisation, The Green Connection, said: “We will do everything we can to stop TotalEnergies’ plan off our shores. It’s time for European financial institutions to finally get that South Africa has plenty of solar and wind resources, and that more fossil fuels will only deepen inequalities in our country. This specific project could risk the livelihood of the fishermen and threatens our oceans and we want to make clear to banks and investors that they should not support it on our behalf. ”

Makoma Lekalakala, Goldman Prize winner and director of Earthlife Africa, said: “French companies and financial institutions are once again trying to influence South African energy politics for their own interest. What they did for coal, they are trying to do it again for oil and gas, but we say no more. European decision makers say that they want to support a “Just Energy Transition Partnership” with South Africa, but their big words ring hollow as long as they refuse to hear the people’s demands for a “real” “just” energy transition.”

Heffa Shücking, the founder of German NGO Urgewald, concludes: “Every dollar spent on new oil and gas projects goes against the 1.5°C roadmap laid out by the International Energy Agency in 2021. Yet, TotalEnergies, which many financial institutions say to be in transition, is already responsible for over 14% of short-term oil and gas expansion in Africa and is on the verge of adding 2.27 billion barrels of oil equivalent to its production portfolio in the continent. This has to stop. Financial institutions that claim to be lining up for 1.5°C need to stop supporting this number one fossil fuel expansionist in Africa.” 

> Sign our petition against TotalEnergies’ climate-wrecking project in South Africa <


(1) See the webpage “Protect Africa from a carbon future” detailing TotalEnergies’ expansion plans in the continent and financial institutions supporting the French major.

(2) See below a table with responses.


Last November, our 5 NGOs (Urgewald, The Green Connection, Earthlife Africa, BLOOM and Reclaim Finance) sent a private letter to the main banks, insurers and investors likely to support TotalEnergies in its projects in South Africa and, more generally, in its expansionist strategy in Africa.

Two months later, the results are bitter: of the 78 financial institutions contacted (28 banks, 25 insurers and 25 investors), only four undertook not to support, directly or indirectly, TotalEnergies in its expansionist strategy in Africa.

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