Commenting on the sudden resignation of Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) CEO Brendan Pearson, Executive Director of Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) Brynn O’Brien said:
“Brendan Pearson’s resignation is a sign that there is pressure on the MCA to chart a new course. However, the roots of climate and energy obstructionism within the MCA run deeper than one individual.
“In order for BHP to justify spending shareholder funds on continued membership, the MCA will need to publicly and unequivocally distance itself from a number of damaging climate and energy policy positions taken under Mr Pearson’s leadership. The MCA will also need to cease its attacks on civil society organisations.
“The MCA’s role in stalling and undermining climate and energy progress in Australia should not be underestimated. We have had a decade of climate policy failure in this country. This damage cannot be undone by the resignation of one person.
A BHP shareholder resolution recently filed by ACCR notes three key national policy areas of material relevance to BHP:
- carbon pricing: BHP has long supported the introduction of a carbon price, while the MCA has obstructed any policy mechanism that would achieve this goal;
- Finkel Review: In June 2017, the MCA sought to undermine adoption of the Finkel Review’s recommendations on energy policy. These activities continue to diminish the federal government's ability to resolve the national energy crisis. BHP, in contrast, was broadly supportive of the Finkel recommendations.
- New coal-fired power generation and fossil fuel subsidies: while BHP has stated its support for Australia meeting its Paris Agreement commitments, the MCA has advocated for policy measures inconsistent with this. The MCA spent almost $2.5m promoting coal-fired power generation in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election.