BHP to cut ties with World Coal Association but to remain with US Chamber of Commerce

April 5, 2018

BHP announced that it will severe its association with the World Coal Association (WCA) due to material differences of opinion over climate change but the mining giant will retain its membership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (USCC), despite acknowledging differences with that group.

BHP had been reviewing its most contentious key peak body memberships follows the lodging of a shareholder resolution on the issue at the mining giant's AGM late last year. A similar agenda item is currently under consideration by Rio Tinto shareholders ahead of that company's AGM in May, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

BHP's $1.8 million-a-year membership of the Minerals Council of Australia appears unlikely to be in jeopardy, with the company saying the mining industry peak body's new energy policy, released in March, had addressed the big differences of opinion between itself and the group.
The WCA said it was "disappointed" by BHP's decision to leave the group.

In recent years, many companies have examined their associations with industry groups under pressure from investors.

BHP publicly reviewed its membership of MCA last year, citing, in part, the mining lobby group's support for interventionist policies that backed high-efficiency, low emissions (HELE) coal power over other technologies.

The MCA's new policy supports technology neutrality and affirms the need for lower emissions along with reliable and affordable energy, the so-called "energy trilemma" backed by BHP. "From a policy perspective, the updated MCA position addresses the two areas identified as material differences by BHP," the company said.

The USCC has described the Paris agreement climate goals as unachievable and has opposed carbon pricing, in opposition to BHP's own positions. BHP said it had asked the USCC to refrain from lobbying on issues where there was a "material difference" in policies between itself and the peak body, and said it would seek to influence policy change through the USCC's energy and environment committee, which BHP has been invited to join. It would keep its membership of the group under review, BHP added.

But BHP said it derived a range of benefits from its membership of the USCC, "particularly its advocacy on economic issues such as free trade and tax reform", with the group having recently warned U.S. President Donald Trump against imposing tariffs on steel and aluminium.
"It would be difficult for BHP to replicate this advocacy outside of the membership of the chamber," BHP said.

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