BHP pressed to quit Australian mining lobby over climate views

A sign adorns the building where mining company BHP Billiton has their office in Perth, Western Australia, November 19, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray/File photo

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - BHP on Tuesday urged shareholders to vote down a resolution aimed at getting the mining giant to quit Australia’s top mining lobby group, but said it will separately review its membership of industry bodies.

BHP agreed to let shareholders vote on the resolution submitted by an ethical investing group, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR), which says BHP should quit any industry groups whose views on climate change and energy policy conflict with the company’s own views.

The dual-listed miner will hold annual general meetings in London on Oct. 19 and in Australia on Nov. 16.

BHP has long acknowledged that global warming is occurring and that the world must limit climate change. It has called for Australia to put a price on carbon, allow energy markets to operate freely and adopt a technology-neutral clean energy target as recommended by the country’s chief scientist.

In contrast, the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) vociferously campaigned to kill Australia’s carbon price, and is pushing for government support for new coal-fired power plants.

The ACCR is calling for BHP to review its membership or representation in industry bodies lobbying on energy and climate change and quit any bodies where it pays a membership fee if their positions do not align with the company’s views.

BHP said its board was “supportive of some elements” of one of two proposed resolutions, but recommended that shareholders vote against it as the resolution as a whole was not in the company’s interests.

The company instead planned to review all its memberships and spell out any big differences it has with industry associations on key issues by December, it said on its web site on Tuesday.

“We believe that by working within associations, we can, with other like-minded members, seek to exert a positive influence on the industry as a whole,” BHP said.

Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Richard Pullin