Sydney (AFP) – The world’s biggest miner BHP said Thursday it was following through on a decision to leave the World Coal Association over climate change policy differences, but would remain a member of the US Chamber of Commerce.
The Anglo-Australian giant announced in December it was reviewing industry group memberships to ensure they aligned with its climate and energy stance, which includes tackling global warming through emission 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 favoured the dumping of a clean energy target, which in Australia involves investment in renewables, 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 in 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 coal 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 aluminium tariffs in the United States,” the statement said.
Australia is among several key US trade partners exempted from President Donald Trump’s controversial tariffs on steel and aluminium imports announced last month.
Brynn O’Brien, executive director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, 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 jeopardise efforts to protect companies from climate risk,” O’Brien said.
BHP rival Rio Tinto made a full exit from the coal industry last month after offloading its last Australian assets, a mine in Queensland state, to private equity manager EMR and Indonesian coal group Adaro for US$2.25 billion.
Rio’s divestment drive and BHP’s exit from the WCA come as some governments look to move away from coal-fired power, a key driver of global warming and air pollution.