France's TotalEnergies said on Nov. 3 it would take legal action after environmental group Greenpeace warned it had under-reported its carbon emissions in 2019.
Greenpeace France earlier accused the oil giant of under-reporting emissions, sparking a debate about its seriousness in the fight against climate change days ahead of the next round of global climate talks.
Criticizing a lack of transparency, the campaign group said TotalEnergies' core activities had generated around 1.64 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2019, against 455 million tonnes showed by the firm in its carbon balance.
Greenpeace France also found Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions - or the company's direct emissions - of about 160 million tonnes, which TotalEnergies described as "fanciful and false" as it said it had reported 55 million tonnes only.
"The Greenpeace report follows a methodology that is dubious, to say the least," TotalEnergies wrote in a statement.
"With regard to information concerning the quality and reliability of the information published by TotalEnergies on its direct greenhouse gas emissions which it has under control, the dissemination by Greenpeace of misleading information in this matter is serious," the energy firm stated.
As a result, the company said it had decided to take legal action to "repair the damage."
Greenpeace France, which said it had based its own calculations on publicly available production and trading data, said TotalEnergies provided few details on its reporting methods and excluded many categories defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol - a set of greenhouse gas accounting standards.
"While it is impossible to know what volumes TotalEnergies minimizes or excludes from its reporting, it is clear that the group massively under-reports Scope 3," it said in a report, referring to indirect emissions caused by customers using its products.
Greenpeace's calculations "do not take into account the integration of TotalEnergies along the oil and gas value chains and thus counts the emissions related to the combustion of products in each value chain several times," TotalEnergies said.
The company has been expanding in renewable energy and emphasizing a shift away from hydrocarbons in a bid to rebrand.
But the firm, which has pledged to be "net zero" by 2050, faces criticism from climate activists and some investors for continued investments in oil and gas projects.
Greenpeace France pointed to the company's planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline and its LNG project in Mozambique, which it described as "climate bombs."
The environmental group said it had shared its findings with France's AMF market regulator. The watchdog declined to comment.
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