Media release

South32 sets new target, but has more to do

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR) welcomes South32’s newly announced emissions reduction target, but calls on the company to do more.

South32 today announced a medium-term emissions reduction target of 50% by 2035 on a FY2021 baseline (operational emissions only).

Commenting on the announcement, ACCR Director of Climate and Environment, Dan Gocher, said:

“ACCR welcomes South32’s updated emissions reduction target, but it has more to do. The decade to 2030 is critical, so South32 must also set ambitious short-term targets, as well as targets for its Scope 3 emissions.

“South32’s target puts it ahead of peers BHP Group and Rio Tinto, but behind Fortescue Metals Group and Glencore in terms of ambition. Unlike Glencore, South32 has yet to set a target for its Scope 3 emissions, which, even after the coal divestment, are more than twice the size of its operational emissions.

“South32 must abandon any further fossil fuel expansion, including its Dendrobium coal mine which was recently rejected by the NSW Independent Planning Commission.

“South32 has serious work to do at its Worsley refinery in WA. Recent analysis from Boiling Cold suggests it emits two thirds more emissions per tonne of alumina produced than Alcoa does.

“Like Rio Tinto before it, South32 has cut and run from its thermal coal assets, leaving the difficult business of transition to someone else. It did, however, have the decency to reset its emissions baseline, unlike Rio Tinto who continues to claim its coal divestment as a reduction in emissions.

“South32 remains a member of several industry associations that continue to stand in the way of climate action, including the NSW Minerals Council (NSWMC) and the Queensland Resources Council. For the past month, the NSWMC CEO Stephen Galilee has been actively campaigning in the Upper Hunter by-election. South32 must rein in its lobbyists or exit.”


South32’s emissions, FY2020:

  • Scope 1+2: 23.3m tonnes CO2e
  • Scope 3: 110m tonnes CO2e

South32’s advocacy on climate policy was assessed in InfluenceMap’s 2020 report ‘Australian Industry Associations and their Carbon Policy Footprint’, available here.

Boiling Cold’s analysis of the Worsley refinery is available here.

Climate commitments by South32’s peers:

BHP Group: Reduce operational emissions by at least 30% by 2030 (FY2020 baseline)

Fortescue Metals Group: Net zero operational emissions by 2030

Glencore: Reduce all emissions (Scopes 1+2+3) by 40% by 2035 (2019 baseline)

Rio Tinto: Reduce operational emissions by 15% by 2030 (2018 baseline)

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