Australian mining companies breaking the law by not discussing climate change

More than a dozen of Australia’s largest mining and infrastructure companies may be breaking the law by refusing to discuss the financial risks posed by climate change, an investor action group has found.

The law in question was highlighted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in September, when it published a report that said the ‘the law requires’ relevant companies to ‘include a discussion of climate risk’ in their annual report.

Market Forces, a group that advocates for environmentally sustainable investment, recently assisted shareholders at company AGMs. Almost all of those companies ignored or dismissed climate change as a financial risk to their business.

“Directors are legally required to consider climate risk. Failure to do so may constitute a breach of their legal duties,” said Market Forces campaigner Rachel Deans.

“It appears directors are openly admitting to breaking the law at their shareholder meetings and Asic seems to be well aware of it.”

An example comes from coal explorer Prairie Mining’s recent AGM, when chairman Ian Middlemas told shareholders that the Paris agreement targets were not on the company’s radar

“I’d love us to be in a position where we have to have an idea about climate change, and an idea about Paris you know…But it’s sort of like having an idea of what happens in Sydney when you live in Perth,” he said.