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VOL. 45 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 15, 2021

Oil giant Total withdraws from US energy lobbying group

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PARIS (AP) — French oil and gas company Total said it has decided to withdraw from energy association American Petroleum Institute because it disagrees on climate-related policies.

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 Pouyanné, 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."

Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists, said Total's decision to leave the group was significant.

"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 told The Associated Press.

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 other 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.

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Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed to this report.

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