French oil major faces climate lawsuit

By Lesley Clark | 03/15/2024 06:41 AM EDT

A farmer in Belgium says TotalEnergies shares part of the blame for rising temperatures that are ruining his crops.

TotalEnergies logo is seen at the company's headquarters skyscraper near Paris.

The TotalEnergies logo is seen at the company's headquarters skyscraper in the La Defense business district near Paris last year. Aurelien Morissard/AP

Backed by environmental groups, a Belgian farmer is suing fossil fuel giant TotalEnergies in what challengers have billed as the first climate lawsuit in the country against a multinational company.

Hugues Falys, who has farmed since 1993, claims in a lawsuit filed this week in the Tournai Commercial Court that climate change has led to damaged and unproductive crop yields and that the French oil company contributed to the problem.

“My profession is intimately linked to the climate,” Falys said. “In recent years, climate change has caused farmers a great deal of damage and left us uncertain about the future.”


The case comes three months after a court in Brussels delivered a major climate verdict in an unrelated case, ordering Belgian governments to do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That lawsuit — first filed in 2014 by the nonprofit Klimaatzaak, or Climate Affair — argued that Belgian law required the government officials to more aggressively tackle climate change.