Rio Tinto board fails to deliver on 2021 lobbying commitment
The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) is commenting on Rio Tinto’s Industry Association Disclosure, published overnight.
On climate change and energy, Rio Tinto found it was not aligned with the National Mining Association (US), and partially misaligned with the Minerals Council of Australia, the Queensland Resources Council and the US Chamber of Commerce.
In 2021, the board of Rio Tinto supported ACCR’s resolution that called for suspension of membership “where an industry association’s record of advocacy is, on balance, inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s goals”.
Dan Gocher, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:
“Rio Tinto’s board has failed to deliver on its 2021 commitment to shareholders to suspend membership of industry associations that continue to advocate for policies that are inconsistent with the Paris Agreement.
“The board’s failure to suspend membership of pro-coal industry associations suggests its support for ACCR’s 2021 resolution was nothing more than a cynical attempt to quash debate.
“Rio Tinto continues to give a free pass to pro-coal advocacy by the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) in Australia, and the National Mining Association in the United States.
“Years of engagement with Rio Tinto on this issue has failed to see any tangible progress. The MCA and the QRC continue to advocate for thermal coal expansion, in the form of new and expanded mines in NSW and Queensland, and regularly claim that Australia can meet growing demand for coal in Asia.
“Such advocacy blatantly ignores the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who’ve both concluded that we simply cannot afford any new coal developments if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
“Rio Tinto points to the MCA’s support for net zero emissions by 2050 - a toothless commitment while it continues to advocate for thermal coal expansion.
“In June 2021, the MCA published a report that claimed Australian thermal coal could “reduce emissions” in Asia. This is demonstrably wrong and has no factual basis whatsoever.
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the QRC has advocated for further expansion of the coal industry as part of the Queensland government’s Resource Industry Development Plan, and recently claimed “Queensland coal mines should be the last coal mines closed in the world”.
“Rio Tinto has little choice but to suspend membership of the MCA and QRC, lest it be accused of making empty promises to its shareholders.”
ACCR’s 2021 shareholder resolution is available here. It was supported by 99.04% of shareholders.
Rio Tinto’s industry associations whose advocacy is misaligned with the Paris Agreement:
|Industry association||InfluenceMap Performance Band|
|Australian Industry Greenhouse Network (AIGN)||D|
|Business Council of Australia||D|
|Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA (CME)||E|
|Minerals Council of Australia||E+|
|National Mining Association (US)||F|
|Queensland Resources Council (QRC)||E|
|US Chamber of Commerce||E-|
NB: Grades from D to F indicate increasingly obstructive climate policy engagement