BHP urges investors to veto resolution against coal lobbying

BHP and Mitsubishi jointly operate coal mines in the Bowen Basin, Queensland. (Image: BHP)

Mining giant BHP Group Ltd urged shareholders on Thursday to vote against a resolution that would require the company to quit industry groups that lobby for policies inconsistent with the Paris climate change agreement.

Several BHP shareholders, including the Church of England pension fund and the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), proposed the resolution to the company this week ahead of its annual general meetings.

“Responding to global warming remains a priority governance and strategic issue for BHP and the company will continue to take action”

In its filing, the ACCR noted an inconsistency between BHP’s “climate-aware positioning” and “the oppositional advocacy of its industry associations”, particularly in Australia, the world’s top coal exporter.

This included coal friendly positions taken by the Minerals Council of Australia and coal body Coal21, such as calling for government subsidies for coal-fired power stations.

BHP said its board would recommend shareholders vote against the resolution at the annual general meetings in London on Oct. 17 and in Sydney on Nov. 7.

BHP was already reviewing its industry memberships and the policy positions taken by those groups since Jan. 2018, the company said in an exchange filing.

“Responding to global warming remains a priority governance and strategic issue for BHP and the company will continue to take action,” BHP said in the filing.

BHP conducted a review of its memberships in 2017 after ACCR, a body concerned with ethical investing, lodged a similar resolution, and quit the World Coal Association late that year.

BHP noted scope changes in the 2019 review, which would also extend to coal lobby group Coal21.

“The Board is being updated in relation to the review and will endorse the outcomes,” the company said.

(By Melanie Burton and Rashmi Ashok; Editing by Tom Hogue and Darren Schuettler)

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