BHP investors holding AU$7 billion of shares have called on BHP to end its funding of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) based on conflict between the mining giant and the industry body over climate and energy policy.
This figure represents the total value of shares cast in favour of a resolution proposed by the Australiasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), heard at the company’s UK and Australian AGMs. 10% of shareholders at the Australian AGM yesterday voted in favour the resolution.
The total vote, revealed last night, comes despite BHP committing to a review of industry body memberships to identify significant policy misalignment.
Shareholders at the Australian AGM also raised concerns about the damage to BHP’s public image as a result of the company’s association with the MCA. It is understood that BHP is the MCA’s largest funder.
Executive Director of ACCR, Brynn O’Brien, said:
“10% of shareholders disagreeing with a Board is very serious. It shows how unpopular the anti-climate lobby in general, and the Minerals Council in particular, are with investors.
“A $7 billion vote is a strong message from shareholders to BHP: paying large sums of money to climate obstructionists is not in your shareholders’ interests, and it is not in the planet’s interests.
“When former oil and gas executive Ian Dunlop was nominated for the Board of BHP on a climate and energy and risk platform in 2014, he got 2.2% of the vote. Just three years later, four times as many shareholders are voting to express their concerns about climate change.
“BHP can expect increasing scrutiny from shareholders. As long as BHP continues to be the biggest funder of the Minerals Council, it should expect to be held accountable for its role in 10 years of climate and energy policy failure in Australia.
“Shareholders have a right to know how much of their money is being used by BHP to prop up industry bodies like the MCA.
“Proper scrutiny of corporate payments to coal lobbyists would result in both local and global progress on climate and energy policy.
The combined vote with UK shareholders has this evening been made public on the ASX.
Brynn O’Brien ACCR Executive Director +61 423 951 316
Brami Jegan Holdfast Communications +61 448 276 945