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Total Energies Return to Africa Would Rock CSDDD, Claim NGOs


French fossil fuel giant is under scrutiny for its operations in a region dominated by conflict and violence.

French multinational TotalEnergies’ intended resumption of natural gas extraction in Mozambique risks falling foul of the EU’s nascent Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive, NGOs have claimed.

After a terror attack in 2021 killed at least 801 people in northern Mozambique, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), energy majors TotalEnergies, ExxonMobil and Eni terminated operations in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado region. However, during a presentation of TotalEnergies’ 2023 annual results held in February, CEO Patrick Pouyanné said it intended to resume operations in the southern African country this year.

NGO Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said TotalEnergies’ intention to “ignore” the fact of the region’s vulnerability to conflict and violence to restart its gas projects in Mozambique is “alarming” and referred back to the upcoming Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD).

“The law would require the fossil giant to assess its operations in a high-risk context like in Cabo Delgado and align with human rights obligations and a climate transition plan,” Jennifer Kwao told Euronews, adding the CSDDD would also give Mozambicans in the region access to justice.

“Reports from civil society and ongoing lawsuits already suggest that TotalEnergies would not be compliant with the CSDDD and is prioritising its profits above all,” said Kwao.

“If the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) was implemented today, TotalEnergies would not be in line with it,” Jill McArdle, corporate accountability campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe (FoEE) told Euronews.

Expected to be rubber-stamped by the European Parliament on April 24, the CSDDD should increase the take-up of international standards in developing countries as well as improve the living conditions of people in these countries.

Obligations under the CSDDD will be phased in from three years after its entry into force, around 2027, to five years after its entry into force, around 2029. They will apply to EU companies with more than 1,000 employees and a net worldwide turnover of more than €450m and to non-EU companies with a net turnover of more than €450m in the EU.

The CSDDD will oblige EU countries to implement “effective, proportionate, and dissuasive” penalties for non-compliance, including maximum fines of at least 5% of the company’s net worldwide turnover. 

“They [TotalEnergies] would be in breach of the broad requirement under CSDDD to take real measures to ‘effectively address’ negative impacts, and could face lawsuits for their failure to do this in Mozambique,” said McArdle.

TotalEnergies is currently facing a lawsuit in France for its alleged negligence during the 2021 terror attack in northern Mozambique.

TotalEnergies did not reply to a request for comment.

Source: Euro News

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