Rio Tinto unveils new plan to sharply cut carbon emissions
Rio has brought forward its target to 2025 from 2030 for a 15% reduction in emissions from 2018 levels
Bengaluru/Melbourne — Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto announced on Wednesday a $7.5bn plan to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030, a reduction three times greater than its previous target.
As steel and iron ore producers continue their push to cut carbon emissions in line with global climate commitments by 2050, Rio said it sought to halve its scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions — direct emissions by the company and certain types of indirect emissions, respectively — by the end of the decade.
Rio brought forward its target to 2025 for a 15% reduction in emissions from 2018 levels, five years faster than it had previously targeted.
“It’s a huge shift but it’s the future for Rio Tinto,” CEO Jakob Stausholm told a media briefing ahead of an investor day conference and presentation.
To meet this goal, Rio said it would double spending on growth in minerals critical to the energy transition to about $3bn a year from 2023.
Stausholm said Rio was also taking a number of “tangible actions” towards helping its customers reduce their emissions.
The world’s biggest iron ore miner said earlier in October that it was trialing new technology that would use biomass in place of coking coal in the steelmaking process to cut industry carbon emissions, and it has also said it is looking at hydrogen.
But Rio did not commit to bigger reductions for its customer emissions, currently targeted at 30% by 2030.
Rio’s new targets blow past those of rival BHP, which targets reducing its operational emissions by 30% by 2030, but still falls short of Fortescue Metals Group’s goals.
“Rio Tinto has finally joined the party with some very ambitious emissions reduction targets, showing BHP and its shareholders what climate action for a diversified miner should look like,” said activist investor the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility.
“While not as ambitious as Fortescue Metals Group’s net zero [operational] emissions by 2030, Rio Tinto has come a long way under Jakob Stausholm.”
Rival Fortescue Metals Group committed earlier in October to achieving net-zero emissions by 2040 from the operations of its steel-making customers, by boosting hydrogen and green energy production to cut its carbon footprint.
To decarbonise its Western Australian iron-ore operations, Rio plans to deploy 1GW of solar and wind power generation, replacing gas-fired power generation. It also intends to decarbonise its Boyne Island and Tomago aluminium smelters in Australia, which will require an estimated 5GW of solar and wind power generation. Rio’s aluminium business accounts for some 70% of its direct and indirect emissions. The reductions compare to a 2018 baseline of 32.6-million tonnes of CO2 equivalent from Rio’s share of operations.
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