Fri, Apr 06, 2018 - Page 11 News List

BHP to depart coal lobby group due to climate policy split

AFP, SYDNEY

BHP Billiton Ltd, the world’s biggest miner, yesterday said it was following through on a decision to leave the World Coal Association (WCA) over climate change policy differences, but would remain a member of the US Chamber of Commerce.

The Anglo-Australian giant in December last year announced that it was reviewing industry group memberships to ensure they aligned with its climate and energy stance, which includes tackling global warming through emissions reductions.

“In light of the material difference identified by the review and the narrow range of activities of benefit to BHP from membership, BHP has reached a final view that it will cease membership of the WCA,” it said in a statement.

The global lobby group had favored the dumping of a clean energy target, which in Australia involves investment in renewable energy sources, as it supported the use of cleaner coal technologies instead.

BHP has said its policy was to tackle climate change by encouraging the use of all technologies.

The WCA said it was disappointed by the decision and stressed its support for an “approach that integrates climate and energy policy that works towards a low-emission future.”

“We believe a balanced approach should not exclude high efficiency, low-emissions power generation and carbon capture and storage,” the association said in a statement.

BHP had also considered leaving the US Chamber of Commerce over its rejection of the Paris Agreement and a carbon-pricing policy, but said it would remain a member to benefit from the body’s advocacy on free trade and tax reform.

“In particular, BHP notes the position the chamber has taken on issues of policy significance, including its commentary on the issue of steel and aluminum tariffs in the United States,” the statement said.

Australia is among several key US trade partners exempted from US President Donald Trump’s controversial tariffs on steel and aluminum imports announced last month.

Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility executive director Brynn O’Brien said BHP’s decision to stay with the US Chamber of Commerce ran contrary to its economic interest.

“As long as powerful companies like BHP continue to financially back fossil fuels lobbyists, these lobbyists will continue to jeopardize efforts to protect companies from climate risk,” O’Brien said.

BHP rival Rio Tinto PLC last month made a full exit from the coal industry after offloading its last Australian assets, a mine in Queensland state, to private equity manager EMR and Indonesian coal group PT Adaro Energy Tbk for US$2.25 billion.

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