On Tuesday 3 September, ACCR filed a shareholder resolution with BHP, calling on the company to suspend its membership of industry associations whose lobbying activities are inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
The resolution was co-filed with:
- Vision Super (Australia), a not-for-profit community super fund with around 100,000 members
- MP Pension (Denmark), a member-owned pension fund with over 130,000 members
- Church of England Pensions Board (UK), providing retirement housing and pensions, set by the Church of England, for those who have served or worked for the Church, with over 38,000 beneficiaries
- ACTIAM (Netherlands), one of the top ten Dutch funds
- Grok Ventures (Australia), the private investment company of Mike and Annie Cannon-Brookes
Together the co-filing group represents around $140bn of assets under management.
The resolution represents the ‘next generation’ of shareholder proposal to companies about adverse-climate lobbying. It moves beyond conventional calls for a review of industry association advocacy, to a recommendation that memberships of industry associations be suspended where these groups’ recent advocacy demonstrates an overall inconsistency with the Paris Agreement’s goals.
BHP’s funding of pro-fossil fuels lobbying has been a subject of increasing frustration for investors, who are concerned about further delays to the implementation of Paris-aligned policy. The inconsistency between BHP’s climate-aware positioning and the oppositional advocacy of its industry associations is especially acute in Australia.
The resolution will be heard at BHP’s upcoming London AGM on Thursday 17 October, as well as its Sydney AGM, on Thursday 7 November 2019 (see ASX announcement).
Comments attributable to ACCR Executive Director, Brynn O’Brien:
“While BHP positions itself as a climate champion, it continues to fund aggressive and effective lobbying to block climate policy, including via the Minerals Council of Australia and Coal21.
“In 2017 BHP set standards for acceptable climate advocacy by its industry associations, but the company has not enforced those standards. BHP claimed that obstructive climate lobbying by its industry associations would come at a cost, but the company has failed to impose those costs.
“The success of BHP-funded groups like the Minerals Council of Australia, APPEA, the Business Council of Australia, the Queensland Resources Council, the Resource Industry Network and the NSW Minerals Council in obstructing effective climate policy in this country is undeniable.
“ACCR has met with BHP on multiple occasions, and we have given them a long list of examples of adverse climate lobbying by their industry associations. The company does acknowledge that there is a serious issue, but has been unable or unwilling to resolve it.
“BHP needs to take vicious climate obstructionism off its payroll in order to realign its third party lobbying profile with its stated interests. Suspension of memberships where advocacy is inconsistent with Paris is the only sensible way forward.”