Activists from StopTotal on Wednesday, May 17, 2023, held an action in front of Credit Agricole’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) demanding the bank’s Chief Executive, Philippe Brassac, take action against TotalEnergies’ controversial East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP).
Brassac reportedly met with the activists outside, telling them: “I know this project, I understand the concerns and I hope we will find the right way, both for the climate, for Uganda and the energy transition.”
But he later said during the AGM that Credit Agricole would continue supporting TotalEnergies.
Ugandan climate justice activist, Hilda Nakabuye, made an intervention during the AGM and spoke with Brassac in person at the action organised by 350.org and Avaaz, outside the bank’s head office.
She said: “You might not fund the EACOP directly, but Total is affecting us, our communities, our traditions, our culture, our people. I travelled 9,000 miles just to let you know how my people are affected. We want you to stop Total and stop funding their activities.”
The demonstration was part of an ongoing campaign launched this Spring. Since April, hundreds of members of the StopTotal movement have been visiting more than 1100 Credit Agricole’ agencies in 400 French cities and villages, demanding the bank and its subsidiary Amundi take a stand against EACOP and stop financing TotalEnergies while the oil major continues to expand its oil and gas operations around the world.
Hugo Viel, France campaigner at 350.org who was also at the action, said: “Crédit Agricole and Philippe Brassac have supported TotalEnergies and its expansionist strategy for years. The EACOP project is symbolic of Total’s strategy. Philippe Brassac, as CEO of the Crédit Agricole Group and the new chairman of Amundi, must assume his responsibilities: he must publicly oppose EACOP and use his financial influence to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Philippe Brassac: stop supporting TotalEnergies.”
Credit Agricole is the leading funder of TotalEnergies and its subsidiary Amundi, its primary shareholder. Although their official communications state that they do not directly finance the EACOP project, they still show strong and regular financial support to the French oil major. The Crédit Agricole Group has an important influence on financial markets, and also on TotalEnergies’ global strategy, being the first shareholder via Amundi.
350.org and partners are demanding that the Group stop its greenwashing and deliver strong commitments to sustainability – if it wants to align its strategy with the Paris Agreement. One very concrete and strongly symbolic action to align with the Paris Agreement is to defund TotalEnergies and pressure the major to abandon all new oil and gas projects, such as EACOP in Uganda.
International pressure around the necessity for banks and insurance to divest from new fossil projects is growing stronger every day. TotalEnergies is said to be struggling to convince investors to support EACOP. The major Japanese bank SMBC has announced that it will no longer get involved in the EACOP.
“Credit Agricole must suspend any form of support – be it financial or strategic – to TotalEnergies, as long as the French oil major invests in new fossil fuel projects. Ahead of the TotalEnergies AGM on May 26, 350.org demands that Credit Agricole via Amundi officially take a strong position against the oil giant by voting against its ‘climate plan’,” according to the activists.