BHP defends climate positions and Paris support

Australian giant says it may break away from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of U.S. policies, one day after Trump released a strategy downplaying climate rules.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Dec. 19, 2017 at 9:16 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
| License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A day after the U.S president broke away from a climate precedent, Australian miner BHP said it may leave industry groups because of its stance on the Paris deal.

In a review of its relationship with industry associations like the World Coal Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BHP Billiton, the largest mining and energy company in the world, said it was a steadfast supporter of the Paris climate agreement.

"We believe the Paris agreement provides a solid long-term foundation for further progress in the global response to climate change," it said in its report.

On Australian policies, the company said it disagreed with support for a lower-emission coal, arguing that while climate and energy policies should be weighed equally, it was not appropriate to favor one segment over the other artificially.

The company has moved its business practices more in line with trends toward alternative sources of energy. In August, Eduard Haegel, the company's president in charge of operations at its Nickel West mining operation, said BHP would capitalize on the growing need for minerals needed to produce batteries for electric vehicles. Identified once as a non-core asset, the company said it was shifting gears toward the production of sulphates in a multi-million dollar overhaul.

That followed British and French government announcements that they'd work toward a benchmark of banning the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles from their roads beginning in 2040.

For the United States, BHP said it was considering its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the chamber's position on the Paris deal and climate policies. Pointing to a Chamber position that a benchmark of keeping climate change at the 2 degree Centigrade threshold was not achievable, the mining company said it has "undertaken scenario planning to explore the implications of, and plan for, a 2°C world."

Its decision Tuesday came one day after U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the role of climate change in his obligatory National Security Strategy. That's in stark contrast to his predecessor, Barack Obama, who recognized climate change as a threat to U.S. national security.

"U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests," the Trump administration's NSS read.

Trump has been an ardent supporter of fossil fuels as president. In October, BHP sold off some of its shale acreage in Texas, following a decision from CEO Andrew Mackenzie that U.S. shale assets were not core parts of the BHP portfolio.

Geoff Healy, the chief external affairs officer for the Australian company, said reconsideration of membership in industry groups that hold positions in contrast to BHP's was a way to make its own values known.

"Importantly, we will also continue to communicate our own views directly to investors, governments and civil society and we will redouble our efforts to engage, clearly and constructively, with our industry associations to positively influence the position they take on matters important to our company," he said in a statement.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories