Shareholders at Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP have voted against a motion calling for the company to give up its membership in industry bodies which support policies which run counter to the Paris climate change treaty.
A tally of the votes taken at the group’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Sydney showed that 72.9 per cent of shareholders had rejected the resolution.
The decision mirrored that taken by investors in London, where only 22.2 per cent supported the motion.
58 per cent of BHP shareholders are based in Sydney, with the rest in London.
The resolution had been supported by ethical investors including Aberdeen Standard Investments, who argued that some of the industry bodies BHP holds membership in fund pro-coal lobbying.
The shareholder decision backed the decision of the board. Speaking at the Sydney AGM, chairman Ken MacKenzie said:
“Climate change is a complex problem. If we are to successfully develop solutions we need to collaborate. We need to work together. And industry associations provide a vital forum for that collaboration.”
For MacKenzie, BHP can play a more influential role in setting higher standards and drawing attention to other issues by remaining within lobbying bodies.
In September one of Australia’s largest mining lobby groups funded an advertising campaign calling for an overhaul of state planning laws after a commission blocked new projects over climate change worries.
Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former prime minister, told the Guardian in October that BHP was one of three mining multinationals that had run sophisticated operations to kill off climate action in Australia.
However, last month BHP announced that it would switch all of its Chilean mining operations to renewable energy by 2021.
Brynn O’Brien, Executive Director at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said:
“Lobbying counter to the goals of the Paris Agreement has been tolerated for far too long … Companies should heed this advice and suspend funding to organisations that undertake lobbying counter to the goals of the Paris Agreement.”
Main image credit: Getty