MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Investors representing A$8 trillion ($5.4 trillion) have backed a call for BHP (BHPB.L)(BHP.AX) to ditch funding for industry groups whose actions are inconsistent with the Paris climate agreement, an Australian NGO said on Thursday.
The Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, a small shareholder in BHP, the world’s biggest listed miner, co-filed a resolution in September that recommended the company suspend its membership of such industry bodies.
But BHP said its board would recommend shareholders vote against the resolution at its annual general meetings because it was already reviewing its industry memberships and the policy positions taken by those groups since January 2018.
BHP will hold its London AGM on Thursday next week and in Sydney on Nov. 7.
Non-government organization ACCR said in a statement that a base of 27 investors would back its resolution, including the Californian superannuation fund CalPERS, AXA Investment Managers, BNP Paribas Asset Management and Aviva Investors.
This also includes the Church of England Pensions Board and top-five investor Aberdeen Asset Management, which said this week that they planned to support the resolution.
It was unclear what percentage of BHP shares the 27 investors held in total.
BHP is trying to establish itself as a leader in climate-change management after Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie in July pledged to spend $400 million on curtailing emissions.
It also says it believes engagement can promote best practice. It funds several industry bodies, including the New South Wales Minerals Council of Australia, which has launched an advertising blitz in support of coal jobs in the state.
The NSW Minerals Council is rallying public support for an overhaul of state planning laws after the state’s Independent Planning Commission blocked several coal projects, citing concerns over climate change.
The NSW council referred Reuters to its climate change policy, which says it supports a measured transition to a low-emissions economy including participation in global agreements such as the 2015 Paris accord.
It also says “sustained global action is required to reduce the risks of human-induced climate change”.
Australia, among the world’s largest per-capita carbon emitters, is also the world’s largest coal exporter. New South Wales, where BHP’s Mt Arthur thermal coal mine is located, is the second largest coal-producing state.
Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Dale Hudson