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Total becomes latest O&G major to target net zero with low carbon electricity focus

Image: Laurent Vincenti.

Image: Laurent Vincenti.

Total has become the latest oil and gas (O&G) major to set its sights on becoming net zero by 2050.

Announced today (5 May) in a joint statement between Total S.A. and institutional investors, the company set out three steps for reaching net zero in all its European businesses by the middle of the century.

These include being net zero across all of its own operations by 2050 or before, reaching net zero across its production and energy products used by its customers in Europe and a 60% or more reduction in average carbon intensity of energy products used worldwide.

As such, the latter two steps include scope one, two and crucially scope three emissions, with the final step having intermediate goals of a 15% reduction by 2030 and 35% by 2040.

In an effort to adapt to the changing world, and ensure that Total can align with the Paris Climate Agreement, the company is looking to focus on not just oil and gas, but also low-carbon electricity with carbon neutrality solutions integrated throughout.

In order to reach its target the company will increase the proportion of its Capex dedicated to low carbon electricity from 10% now to 20% by 2030 or soon. Total added that it already allocates the highest percentage of its Capex to low carbon electricity of all of the O&G majors. Currently it has targeted 25GW of renewable generation gross capacity by 2025, with plans to further expand this.

Additionally, in an effort to reach net zero Total will develop an active advocacy for policies including carbon pricing, and look to work with companies and countries to decarbonise.

Chairman of the Board Patrick Pouyanné said that Total was “committed to helping solve the dual challenge of providing more energy with fewer emissions".

“We are determined to advance the energy transition while also growing shareholder value. Today, we are announcing our new Climate Ambition to get to net zero by 2050 - together with society.

"The Board believes that Total’s global roadmap, strategy and actions set out a path that is consistent with goals of the Paris agreement. We acknowledge the positive role of engagement and open dialogue with investors as the one we experienced with Climate 100+ along the last months.”

Steps to develop the company’s presence in the low-carbon electricity space have already begun. In March, Total made a step into the floating offshore wind market signing an agreement with developer Simply Blue Energy to acquire an 80% stake in the 96MW Erebus floating wind project in the Celtic Sea in Wales.

The company has been actively involved in the electric vehicle sector too, and recently announced plans to install 20,000 new public electric vehicle charge points in the Netherlands.

It is also involved in a carbon capture and storage project with a consortium of other O&G majors, and in January invested into GridBeyond in a funding round that saw the energy tech firm raise £9 million.

A number of the O&G majors have made similar pledges recently, and increasingly include challenging scope three emissions as Total does. These are the emissions created through the use of the products produced by the companies, and were often noticeably missing in early decarbonisation pledges made by the O&G sector.

At the beginning of April, Shell unveiled its aim of becoming a net zero emissions energy business by 2050 “or sooner”. It followed in the steps of BP, which revealed in February that it was going to “fundamentally re-organise” its business in a bid to become net zero by 2050 or sooner.

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