BHP investors file resolution to cut funding for Australian coal lobby groups
Several BHP Group shareholders, including the Church of England pension fund, are recommending the company suspend its membership in industry groups that advocate for policies inconsistent with the Paris climate change agreement.
The resolution was filed on Tuesday by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) ahead of BHP’s annual general meetings (AGM) in London and Sydney, the ACCR said in a statement.
Co-filers included the Church of England Pensions Board and Grok Ventures, the private investment vehicle of Australian tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes, as well as institutional investors that combined hold A$140 billion( $94.6 billion) under management.
“While BHP positions itself as a climate champion, it continues to fund aggressive and effective lobbying to block climate policy, including via the Minerals Council of Australia and Coal21,” said ACCR Executive Director, Brynn O’Brien.
BHP Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie said in July that the world’s biggest miner would invest $400 million over five years to reduce emissions, as it also became the first miner to pledge to tackle pollution caused when customers use its products.
ACCR said the inconsistency between BHP’s climate-aware positioning and “the oppositional advocacy of its industry associations” was especially acute in Australia, the world’s biggest coal exporter.
Industry groups like Minerals Council of Australia have repeatedly called for coal friendly policies, including government subsidies for coal-fired power stations, it said.
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable said in a statement to Reuters on Wednesday that the group supported a transformation to a low emissions global economy.
Australian mining businesses were working to reduce emissions from minerals extraction and processing, investing in low emissions technologies and increasing the user of renewable energy in their operations, she said.
The ACCR lodged a similar resolution in 2017 that saw BHP review its membership of more than 20 industry associations and quit the World Coal Association.
At the time, BHP pledged to review its membership of any groups that advocated for “material” differences in policy positions to its own that could impact public policy and where it did not otherwise see sufficient membership benefit.
BHP has said that it can accomplish more with industry groups by being members but that it would keep its membership of groups and their policy positions under review.
BHP’s upcoming London AGM is on Oct. 17 while its Sydney AGM is Nov. 7.
($1 = 1.4806 Australian dollars)
(By Melanie Burton; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Richard Pullin)