NGOs seek climate trial of French oil giant TotalEnergies

NGOs filed a criminal complaint against French oil giant TotalEnergies and its top shareholders in Paris on Tuesday, seeking a trial for involuntary manslaughter and other consequences of climate change "chaos".

Three NGOs – Bloom, Alliance Santé Planétaire and Mexico's Nuestro Futuro – and eight individuals have filed a complaint against TotalEnergies.

The case targets the company's board, including chief executive Patrick Pouyanne, and major shareholders that backed the group's climate strategy – including US investment firm BlackRock and Norway's central bank, Norges Bank.

In a statement, the NGOs said they accused TotalEnergies of "deliberately endangering the lives of others, involuntary manslaughter, neglecting to address a disaster, and damaging biodiversity".

The complaint was filed at the Paris judicial court – which has environmental and health departments – three days before TotalEnergies holds its annual shareholders meeting.

The prosecutor now has three months to decide whether to open a judicial investigation, the NGOs said.

If it does not go ahead, the plaintiffs can take their case directly before an investigative judge.

'Victims of climate-related disasters'

"This legal action could set a precedent in the history of climate litigation as it opens the way to holding fossil fuel producers and shareholders responsible before criminal courts for the chaos caused by climate change," the NGOs said.

TotalEnergies is facing other legal cases in France related to climate change and environment.

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