The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on a newly released Review of Industry Associations by Origin Energy (ASX:ORG). At Origin’s 2021 AGM, 36.62% of shareholders supported ACCR’s resolution seeking that the company strengthen its review of industry associations to ensure that it identifies advocacy that is inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.
Harriet Kater, Climate Lead (Australia) at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“Origin Energy has perfected the art of wilful blindness by refusing to acknowledge that many of its industry associations are pushing for new coal, oil and gas at the expense of the Paris Agreement.
“Advocating for these new large scale fossil fuel projects is like taking a wrecking ball to our climate.
“No amount of industry spin can change the physics when it comes to the massive emissions profiles of the fossil fuel projects being pushed by the likes of APPEA and the Queensland Resources Council.
“This industry association review yet again demonstrates that Origin is mocking this process by prioritising its cosy relationships with fossil fuel pushers over its supposed - and well publicised - goal of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
“The whole concept of industry association reviews is a farce if a company like Origin can claim to be committed to 1.5°C and yet also claim there is no difference between what it and APPEA wants.
“Far greater disclosure on the fundamentals of political influence is required. This includes detail on the political donations, ministerial meetings, major submissions and advertising campaigns executed by industry associations.
“These reviews persistently fail to address the actual advocacy that is relevant to meeting the Paris Agreement rather than top line policy statements.
“If advocacy and policy submissions are not carefully interrogated and reconciled against public statements and disclosures these industry reviews are not worth the paper they are written on.”
Origin is a member of several lobby groups of concern, including APPEA and the QRC. For example, in a 2021 submission to an Australian parliamentary inquiry, APPEA suggested that Australia can only meet the Paris Agreement by developing new gas resources. In February 2022, APPEA claimed that, “Australia’s gas industry will enjoy strong growth in demand stretching through to 2050”.
In March 2022, the QRC used the situation in Europe following Russia's invasion of Ukraine to push for ongoing legal and assessment processes to be disregarded in order to approve New Hope's New Acland thermal coal mine in Queensland. In November 2021, the QRC put out a media release where it stated, "Right now, steel can only be produced commercially by using metallurgical coal, and thermal coal is the only 100 percent reliable way to produce energy."
The QRC has said it will campaign to fight Queensland Labor’s policy of increased royalty payments on coal at the next Queensland election in 2024. The QRC has a poor track record for partisan political campaigning. In 2020, Origin Energy previously temporarily suspended membership for the QRC’s attack on the Greens, yet the QRC continued the advertising.