BHP announced that is embarking on a five-year, $400 million climate investment program to develop technologies that will reduce emissions from its own operations as well as those emissions generated from the use of the resources the company produces.
BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie has led the company on mission to reduce its emissions since the 1990s.
“Over the next five years this program will scale up low carbon technologies critical to the decarbonization of our operations. It will drive investment in nature-based solutions and encourage further collective action on scope three emissions.
“Commercial success of these investments will breed ambition and create more innovative partnerships to respond collectively to the climate challenge,” Mackenzie said.
The Guardian reported that BHP still directly produced 16.5 Mt (18.2 million st) of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions in the 2017/18 fiscal year, mostly from energy and diesel use at its operations.
That’s the equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from 3.5 million cars or 4.2 coal-fired power stations for a year, according to a calculator on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website.
The large consumers of BHP products – most notably the processing of iron ore and the burning of coal and crude oil – increase BHP’s indirect emissions 596.4 Mt (657 million st) of carbon dioxide for the fiscal year. That’s equivalent of the emissions produced in a year by 126 million cars or 153 coal-fired power plants, according to the EPA calculator.
“Use of emissions-intensive products from the resource industry have contributed significantly to global warming,” Mackenzie said, while noting that BHP’s emissions in 2017 were less than those in 2006.
BHP has a short-term goal to cap 2022 emissions at 2017 levels, and a long-term goal of achieving net-zero emissions by mid-century.
It is also strengthening the link between emissions performance and executive renumeration from 2021, and has invested $6 million in Carbon Engineering Limited, a Canadian company focused on developing ways to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Global warming required a “coordinated global response” and no single solution could combat it, Mackenzie said. “While we endorse a carbon price this is not enough in isolation.”
“An ‘all of the above’ solution barely gets us there,” Mackenzie said. “All emitters, resource companies, customers, consumers must play their part together with governments to meet the climate challenge.”
BHP will establish a new medium-term, science-based target for scope one and two emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. This is in addition to BHP’s short-term goal to cap 2022 emissions at 2017 levels, and long-term goal of net-zero emissions by mid-century.
The company will develop a new climate portfolio analysis report in 2020, following on from BHP’s 2015 two degree scenario analysis.
It will also strengthen the link between emissions performance and executive remuneration. From 2021, this link will be clarified to further reinforce the strategic importance and responsibility of reducing emissions as a business.
BHP’s Newman coal mine in Western Australia
Photo credit: © BHP 2019