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December 19th - Trade association misalignment by companies on climate change is now a top concern of investors. Mining giant BHP released an audit of material differences it has with its key lobbying groups after investor pressure December 19th. The report considers 21 of BHP's trade associations, assesses differences between their climate/energy policy positions and those of BHP and finds material differences between three: the Minerals Council of Australia, the US Chamber of Commerce and the World Coal Association and states it will decide on a course of action by March 31st 2018.
InfluenceMap maintains the world's leading, open source and independent platform for assessing corporate support of climate policy, including trade association links and alignment issues. In this briefing we offer an initial view on BHP's report.
The review and public disclosure by BHP represent perhaps the most comprehensive yet by a major fossil fuel production company on its trade associations and alignment with their positions on climate.
The methodology employed by BHP to determine its future engagements with trade associations is original and appears to be unique to the sector, at least within the public domain, and could be a significant contributor to best practice going forward for fossil fuel producers and beyond.
However, BHP appears to have selectively applied its method, leaving out key trade associations with which it appears seriously misaligned. A prime example is the American Petroleum Institute, which continues to suggest that, regarding climate science, there are “scientists on both sides of this debate" a position clearly at odds with that of BHP.
There also appear to be less serious but still significant differences between the stated policy ambitions of BHP and those of the Business Council of Australia, for example on ambitious GHG emission reduction measures for the nation, and the Mining Association of Canada. It also appears to inconsistently choose which of the trade association policies it compares itself to.