Big Oil: Total Clean Up

The $125 billion European oil giant is embracing ethics and environmentalism as it does profit. But it's not easy being green

In his 30 years at Paris-based oil company Total, Jean-Noel Dairon has gathered a wealth of expertise in oil refining and marketing. But on a rainy Monday in October, the veteran executive shows up at the Hilton Hotel in Milan, Italy, with a rather different agenda: he has come to talk about business ethics. Dairon, 56, stands in front of 100 managers of the company's Italian subsidiary and gets straight to the point. "Is this a new era of capitalism," he asks provocatively, "or is it hypocrisy in action, a cynical response to the company's critics?" Thus starts an ethics road...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!