Investors with a combined £47bn under management have today filed a shareholder resolution against Rio Tinto, calling on the FTSE 100 miner to review its relationships with industry bodies blocking progress on climate change.
The UK's Church of England Pensions Board, along with the Australian Local Government Super fund and the Seventh Swedish National Pension Fund, co-filed the resolution which is due to be heard at Rio Tinto's UK annual general meeting in April.
The shareholders, together with activist shareholder organisation the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), allege that industry bodies including the Minerals Council of Australia are preventing progress being made towards global climate and energy frameworks.
"It is a matter of public record that Rio Tinto has supported the Paris Agreement and limiting climate change to two degrees," said Adam Matthews of the Church of England Pensions Board.
However, that position is undermined when industry associations and lobbying groups, financially supported by Rio Tinto, take contrary lobbying positions.
The investors are demanding that Rio Tinto discloses its industry memberships and the amounts it has paid since 2012, evaluates whether the advocacy positions of these industry associations are consistent with its policy and financial interests, and tells shareholders about the triggers for exiting associations where the company's interests are not served.
Trade associations, such as fossil fuel lobby groups, may use their influence with governments to obstruct progress on climate change where it does not suit their goals. Yet, contrarily, many members of these associations are large companies which have committed to the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which has aims such as limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
London think tank InfluenceMap and environmental lawyers ClientEarth helped to draft the Rio Tinto resolution.