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Belgian farmer takes TotalEnergies to court, seeking climate damages

Belgian farmer takes TotalEnergies to court, seeking climate damages
A Belgian farmer is taking French oil and gas company TotalEnergies to court, seeking compensation for climate change-fuelled damage to his farm and a legal order for the company to halt investments in new fossil fuel projects.
The case, filed on Wednesday at the Tournai commercial court, is the first climate change-related lawsuit in Belgium to target a multinational company. It follows a case in which thousands of citizens successfully sued the Belgian government to demand stronger greenhouse gas emissions cuts.
A spokesperson for TotalEnergies declined to comment on the case.
Hugues Falys, who farms a herd of cattle in the municipality of Lessines, argues that, as one of the world’s top 20 CO2-emitting companies, TotalEnergies is partly responsible for damage extreme weather did to his operations from 2016-2022.
During that period, successive droughts reduced the yield of his meadows where he grows fodder for the animals – forcing him to buy feed and, eventually, reduce the size of his herd. “We are an activity completely dependent on the climate,” Falys told Reuters.
He argues TotalEnergies has failed to comply with Belgian law, which states anyone who causes damage must make reparations for it. It is a similar argument to the one used against the Belgian government in the previous climate case. Falys and three campaign groups joining the legal action are seeking an injunction that would force TotalEnergies to overhaul its business plan.
Their demands include that the company immediately halt investments in new fossil fuel projects, and reduce its oil and gas production each by 47% by 2030. They also seek damages – which, if awarded, Falys intends to donate to a sustainable farming organisation in Belgium.

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