BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie. Picture: REUTERS
BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie. Picture: REUTERS

Melbourne — Investors representing A$8-trillion ($5.4-trillion) have backed a call for BHP to ditch funding for industry groups whose actions are inconsistent with the Paris climate agreement, an Australian NGO said on Thursday.

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), 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 AGMs because it has already been reviewing its industry memberships and the policy positions taken by those groups since January 2018.

BHP will hold its London AGM on Thursday October 17 and in Sydney on November 7.

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 it plans to support the resolution.

It is unclear what percentage of BHP shares the 27 investors hold in total.

BHP is trying to establish itself as a leader in climate-change management after CEO Andrew Mackenzie, in July, pledged to spend $400m on curtailing emissions.

It also says it believes engagement can promote best practice. It funds several industry bodies, including the New South Wales (NSW) Minerals Council, which has launched an advertising blitz in support of coal jobs in the state. The 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 Minerals 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. NSW, where BHP’s Mt Arthur thermal coal mine is located, is the second largest coal-producing state.