BHP facing investor revolt over links to fossil fuel lobbyists

BHP is facing up to an investor rebellion at its annual general meeting next week, after major shareholder Standard Life Aberdeen called for the world’s biggest mining company to end its association with advocacy groups that support the fossil fuels industry.

Standard Life, a top five shareholder in BHP with a 3.2% stake, told the Financial Times it would vote for a shareholder resolution calling on BHP to suspend its membership to powerful groups of fossil fuel lobbyists.

The resolution has gained support from BHP shareholders controlling at least £2.1 trillion, including Axa Investment Managers, Calpers, the Church of England Pensions Board and several large British and Australian pension funds.

“Lobbying is the most acute blocker preventing the transition that is required towards achieving the Paris goals,” said Bill Hartnett, environmental, social and governance stewardship director at Standard Life.

“We think BHP has done many leading things in regard to climate change management. But these have been undermined by its association and funding of certain lobby groups,” he added.

BHP has won plaudits for its stance on climate change, and recently announced a policy to set public goals on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from its products even after they have been sold. However, its membership to lobby groups like Coal21 – an Australian organisation that has funded pro-coal marketing campaigns – has been called into question.

The shareholder pressure it set against a backdrop of heightened public awareness about the lack of progress made towards the Paris Agreement goals on tackling climate change, highlighted by the global Extinction Rebellion movement.