Why does Total’s huge profits make people cringe?

In 2022, all is well for Total. The French group more than doubled its net profit in the second quarter, with 5.7 billion euros in revenue. But in the context of the war in Ukraine, the climate crisis and the increase in energy prices for French households, voices have been raised against the company. Franceinfo explains why the oil and gas giant’s profits have been so criticized.

Because they are involved in the war in Ukraine

The increase in oil and gas prices due to the war in Ukraine has made Total profitable in 2022. An observation shared by Patrick Pouyanné, the CEO of the group: “The effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on energy markets continued into the second quarter, with oil prices rising above $110 per barrel on average during the quarter”he commented in a press release.

An international context that creates trouble. TotalEnergies has been accused by politicians on the left and right of exploiting the war to reap “superprofits”. The words “profits of war” Emmanuel Macron even stated during the G7 summit in Germany at the end of June, without directly citing the company. “Stop the war profits! Urgently tax the super profits of the big groups”, react for his part the deputy LFI Alexis Corbière, after announcing the results of Total, Thursday, July 28.

Because they are due to inflation

These huge gains have been particularly difficult as rising energy prices have hit the French in the wallet for months. During the first six months of the year, the liter of unleaded 95 increased by more than 25%. “The French suffer as Total collapses on itself”responded MP Mathilde Panot, president of the LFI group in the Assembly, during the examination of the purchasing power.

In the face of this price increase, Total still decided to make a move to households. A pump discount of 20 cents per liter will be implemented between September and November at the group’s stations. The rebate will drop to 10 cents for the rest of the year, the oil group announced on Friday 22 July. “An immediate gain in purchasing power”according to the leader of the representatives of the majority, Aurore Bergé. “Laughing”judge the deputy LFI Clemence Guette.

Because they don’t have taxes

Faced with extraordinary profits, the opposition pushed for several weeks to introduce an extraordinary tax. But the government is against it, preferring a voluntary contribution from companies. The tax proposal was thus narrowly rejected, Saturday, July 23, in the Assembly, despite protests from the left and the far right.

“The government rejects an extraordinary income tax linked to the energy increase”thus blamed the socialist deputy Valérie Rabault. Mathilde Panot, she faced the position of Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of Economy, who pleaded for companies to act on their own. MP LFI therefore compares Total’s revenue with the amount of the pump discount given to the company:

Asked about the feasibility of introducing a tax on “superprofits”, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne confirmed the government’s position: “We ask these companies to help us, to help the French who now, with inflation, may have difficulties.” she estimated Total “providing a response to a 20-cent drop in pump prices from September”.

Because they do not benefit the employees

TotalEnergies employees also chose this symbolic day to publish the successful results to continue the strike of the CGT call. The strikers heard “keep the pressure on” and demanded a wage increase that takes into account inflation, according to Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the European works council TotalEnergies SE. “In Total’s policy, the first privilege is the shareholder”believes that the trade unionist, questioned by the RMC. “Unfortunately, Total employees remain the big losers. The 5.8% inflation has not paid for the employees.”

Because they are “climaticides”

TotalEnergie’s record profits have also sparked criticism from environmental organizations. Therefore, the environmental NGO 350.org criticizes a profit “amazing” while “The oil giant is responsible for some of the most destructive fossil fuel projects on the planet”which deals with a controversial pipeline project in East Africa.

A few weeks ago, demonstrators also prevented the group’s shareholders from accessing their General Meeting. “TotalEnergies invests in many projects to kill the climate, finance the worst regimes and make record profits, it is very daring”environmental activist Camille Etienne was especially criticized.

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