The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on Rio Tinto’s exit from the Queensland Resources Council (QRC), announced today.
ACCR filed and subsequently withdrew a shareholder resolution to Rio Tinto in February, calling on the company to suspend membership of industry associations that continue to advocate for the development of new and expanded coal mines.
Dan Gocher, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“Rio Tinto has finally acknowledged the damage and destruction of the QRC and realises it won’t ever align its advocacy with a safe climate.
“While Rio Tinto’s exit from the QRC may have been triggered by ACCR’s shareholder resolution, the company was under increasing pressure from its shareholders to rein in obstructive lobbying by its industry associations.
“In 2021, the board of Rio Tinto supported an ACCR shareholder resolution calling for the advocacy of its industry associations to be aligned with the Paris Agreement. Rio Tinto has finally acted on the substance of that resolution.
“Over two decades, the QRC has proven to be a consistent roadblock to climate action.
“After more than four years of engagement with Rio Tinto on climate-related lobbying, Rio Tinto has recognised that continued advocacy for the expansion of Queensland’s coal and gas industry is not consistent with the Paris Agreement.
“The QRC exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage the Queensland government to accelerate new coal projects and subsidise new gas infrastructure.
“In 2020, BHP and Origin Energy suspended their membership of the QRC following an advertising campaign targeting the Greens in the Queensland state election.
“Those members of the QRC that claim to be supportive of the Paris Agreement - including Anglo American, BHP, Origin Energy and South32 - must follow Rio Tinto and exit the QRC.
“Last week’s IPCC report confirmed the negative role that organisations like the QRC have played in opposing climate policy for the better part of two decades.
“Investors must call time on anti-climate lobbying by forcing companies to suspend membership or exit industry associations opposed to ambitious climate action.”
ACCR’s 2022 shareholder resolution to Rio Tinto on climate-related lobbying:
Consistent with the board’s support for Resolution 20 at the Rio Tinto Ltd 2021 annual general meeting, shareholders request that our company suspend membership of industry associations that continue to advocate for the development of new and expanded coal mines.
Nothing in this resolution should be read as limiting the Board’s discretion to take decisions in the best interests of our company.
ACCR’s 2021 shareholder resolution to Rio Tinto on climate-related lobbying, which was supported by the board and >99% of shareholders.