CALGARY — French oil and gas company Total says it will ditch its membership in the U.S.-based American Petroleum Institute because it disagrees on climate-related policies.
The move announced Friday follows its decision last July to drop out of the Calgary-based Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and write off $9.3-billion worth of oilsands assets in Alberta.
Total said in a statement Friday it would not renew its membership for 2021 following an analysis of API's position on climate issues that has shown "certain divergences.”
The company notably mentions API's "support during the recent elections to candidates who argued against the United States’ participation" in the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb climate change.
Total says it is working to provide cleaner energy and its CEO, Patrick Pouyanne, said the group wants to ensure that “the industry associations of which we are a member adopt positions and messages that are aligned with those of the group in the fight against climate change.”
Total said last summer it was leaving CAPP because of a "misalignment'' between the organization's public positions and those expressed in Total's climate ambition statement announced last May.
At the time, CAPP CEO Tim McMillan called the decision "disappointing" and Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage called it "highly-hypocritical'' given Total's investments in other parts of the world.
Total’s decision to leave the API is significant, said Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
“It’s a very big deal for an oil major to take a position basically leaving the major trade association here in the United States,” he said.
With more than 600 members, API represents all segments of the oil and natural gas industry in the U.S.
Frumhoff said the move came just days after API’s president, Mike Summers, made a speech in which he said the group would fight regulation of methane emissions, restrictions on drilling on public lands and support for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
He added that Total's decision put pressure on oil companies BP and Shell, which both said they aim at fighting greenhouse gas emissions, “to put their political power where their mouth is and do the same.”
President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he wants to focus on fighting climate change, has pledged to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris accord on the first day of his presidency.
With files from the Associated Press
The Canadian Press