French energy provider Total announces forest project

Materials World magazine
7 Jul 2019
Patrick Pouyanné. Image credit; Jérémy Barande/Ecole polytechnique Université Paris-Saclay

The head of French energy giant Total said the company would invest US$100mln annually on a new forest preservation and reforestation project.


Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanné said the company wants to set up a unit specifically for preserving forests. 


‘The most effective way today to eliminate carbon, for less than $10 a tonne, is reforestation,’ he said.


The announcement followed a study by ETH Zurich, published in Science in early July 2019, that said a large-scale reforestation operation could capture two-thirds of man-made carbon emissions and reduce overall levels in the atmosphere to their lowest in almost a century.


It found the Earth can support 900 million hectares of trees that would sequester 205 billion tonnes of carbon.


‘This is by far, by thousands of times, the cheapest climate change solution and the most effective, said Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich climate change ecologist Thomas Crowther.


Six nations with the most room for new trees identified in the study were Russia, USA, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.


On 3 July, Total announced it had started producing biofuel at a converted former oil refinery at La Mede, near Marseille.


The site can produce up to 500,000t of biofuel per year. About 60-70% of the fuel will be made from vegetable oils include rapeseed, palm and sunflower, and 30-40% will come from treated waste such as animal fats, cooking oil and residues.


An 8mW solar farm that can supply power to 13,000 people is on the same site.