The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) has filed a shareholder resolution with BHP Group Ltd (ASX:BHP), requesting the company strengthen its review of industry associations to ensure that lobbying is consistent with the Paris Agreement.
The resolution also requests that where an industry association’s record of advocacy is, on balance, inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s goals, that BHP suspend its membership.
Commenting on the resolution, Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment, said:
“The advocacy by key BHP industry associations throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been fundamentally at odds with the Paris Agreement’s goals: demands for government support and subsidies, fast-tracked approvals for new fossil fuel developments, and an aggressive deregulation agenda.
“This is nothing short of predatory, opportunistic behaviour - seeking to make the most of the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
“The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) claims credit for the Government's ‘gas-fired recovery’; the Minerals Council of Australia continues to block meaningful environmental and climate action—as well as having the gall to claim that Australian thermal coal could reduce global emissions; while the American Petroleum Institute has recently opposed the Biden Administration’s electric vehicle policy.
“In 2020, 22.4% of shareholders voted for BHP to suspend membership of industry associations whose advocacy was misaligned with the Paris Agreement. Concerned shareholders will persist in holding BHP to account for the obstructive lobbying of its industry associations.
“BHP’s own analysis concluded that a 1.5°C scenario would be an “attractive scenario for BHP, for our shareholders and the global community.” This resolution seeks to ensure that BHP’s industry associations lobby positively for that outcome.”
Text of the resolution and supporting statement can be found here.
BHP’s response to ACCR’s 2020 resolution is available here under ‘Shareholder engagement update 2021’
Recent advocacy by BHP’s industry associations:
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA)
InfluenceMap score: E+
- Advocated and took credit for the Australian government’s “gas-fired recovery”;
- Updated its Climate Change Policy Principles to support net zero emissions by 2050, which also include the expansion of the gas industry;
- Lobbied for amendments to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) to enable it to invest in carbon capture and storage (CCS) to enable fossil hydrogen.
Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)
InfluenceMap score: E+
- Sought to weaken the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, including opposing the assessment of new projects’ greenhouse gas emissions;
- Lobbied for government subsidies for fossil fuel exploration;
- Called for an amendment to Australia’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which would allow it to invest in coal-fired power generation, coinciding with an identical proposal from Nationals Party MP Barnaby Joyce;
- Advocated for amendments to ARENA to enable it to invest in CCS;
- Published a report claiming Australian thermal coal could reduce global emissions;
- Opposed the EU’s proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism and lobbied the European Commission to include fossil fuels with CCS in the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities.
NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC)
InfluenceMap score: F
- Published a report calling for the fast-tracked approval of 21 new or expanded coal mining projects, claiming they were necessary for economic recovery;
- Lobbied to overturn the rejection of a new metallurgical coal mine, despite the risks it would pose to Sydney’s drinking water catchment;
- Campaigned during the Upper Hunter by-election in NSW, claiming that demand for Australia’s thermal coal would continue for “decades to come”.
American Petroleum Institute (API)
InfluenceMap score: E-
- Opposed the Biden administration’s electric vehicle policies;
- ExxonMobil lobbyists confirmed that oil majors used the API to defend “forever chemicals”;
- Lobbied against Securities and Exchange Commission rules to improve climate risk disclosure.