12/16/2015 - News

Climate: Total CEO Welcomes a "Very Good Agreement"

Paris, France | AFP

On Monday, the Chief Executive Officer of French oil giant Total, Patrick Pouyanné, welcomed the adoption in Paris of a "very good agreement" to fight global warming, one that offers businesses a framework for investing in cleaner technologies.

The 195 countries that met in the Paris suburb of Le Bourget agreed Saturday on a goal to hold warming "well below 2°C," in order to limit climate disruptions with devastating consequences.

"It's a very good agreement that sends an important signal," Patrick Pouyanné told AFP. "Objectively, I don't think we could have hoped for anything better than this."

"It's a clear signal. In that respect it's good, because that's what the business world was hoping for: to know where we're headed so that we can incorporate the issue into our strategies and plans," he added.

The CEO of the French blue chip behemoth was especially happy that the pact recognizes the importance of carbon pricing, which helps create an incentive to invest in the cleanest technologies by making companies pay for their greenhouse gas emissions.

"I think that the simple fact that there's an agreement will pave the way for strong engagement in innovation and investment in solutions" to solve the emissions problem, said Patrick Pouyanné.

"The whole agreement will only work if businesses genuinely engage," he added.

Total and nine other global oil and gas companies pledged in October to step up their investment and collaboration, to do their part to fight climate change.

"One of the programs we want to pursue jointly is a big carbon capture and storage or reuse program," the top executive explained. "It's going to be a, if not the, major program, which we'll deploy together," he added.

"Such technology — which so far has struggled to grow for lack of economic incentives — must partner with the production of fossil fuels, which will definitely stay in the global energy mix over the next few decades, even though their relative share will shrink," he explained.

"I think we'll still be using fossil fuels in 2050, but they'll be offset, because we'll know how to capture and neutralize carbon," he believes. "And the tangible implications for me are that when people propose capital spending projects, the issue of carbon emissions and cost-effectiveness will be even more clearly defined."

In terms of oil production, "What that boils down to for us it that we have to focus on lowest-cost oil assets. Assets that will be able to keep producing will be the most cost-effective."

Total also plans to keep expanding the production and uses of natural gas, as well as biofuels. "The growth that won't be happening on the oil side (...), we can get in the renewable energies area," says Patrick Pouyanné.