‘Disappointed’ coal lobby group delivers a rebuke to BHP

The World Coal Association has hit back at mining giant BHP, saying the miner inaccurately depicted the views of the association on climate and energy policy in a BHP report released this week.
Nanjing Night Net

In a written statement the world coal lobby group said it was “disappointed” by the BHP report, and that the association supported a “balanced approach” to climate and energy policy.

In a much-anticipated review of its membership of industry groups, BHP said it had reached a “preliminary” decision to dump its membership of the world coal lobby group. It said it would communicate this decision to the WCA before making a final decision by the end of March next year.

BHP attributed the move to what it said was a “material difference” between itself and the World Coal Association on climate and energy policy.

BHP said the WCA had “supported abandoning the proposed Australian Clean Energy Target because in their view abandoning the Clean Energy Target would improve the investment climate for HELE generation”. HELE stands for High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired electricity generation.

BHP said that it believed that governments “should focus on setting policies to facilitate efficient markets”.

But the miner’s “Industry Association Review” acknowledged that the WCA had also “expressed support for technology neutrality in climate and energy policy frameworks”.

BHP also said there were “narrower activities of benefit to BHP” from membership of the World Coal Association.

In a written statement released on Tuesday night the chairman of the WCA, Mick Buffier, hit back at BHP.

“Naturally we are disappointed at the outcome of the review, we do not feel that the report accurately reflects the views of the WCA.

“The WCA has always supported a balanced approach that integrates climate and energy policy; working towards a low emission future for coal,” he said.

“A visit to the WCA website will find the first item listed as ???A pathway to zero emissions from coal, supporting the deployment of all low emission technologies’. We hope to be able to continue working with BHP on this basis in the future,” he said.

The move by the major miner to signal a willingness to depart the World Coal Association comes despite the BHP report itemising only one material difference between itself and the coal lobby group on climate and energy policy.

BHP’s report noted more “material differences” between itself and two other lobby groups. The report cited two differences with the Minerals Council of Australia, and four differences with the United States Chamber of Commerce.

BHP would not respond on Wednesday to the criticisms made by the World Coal Association.

In the 26 page “Industry Association Review” BHP released on Tuesday, the miner identified three steps it would take before reaching a final view on its membership of the coal lobby group. These measures included informing the WCA board of its preliminary decision to leave the group, and that it would invite the WCA to respond to the review’s findings.

BHP said that “following receipt of any response” from the WCA, it would make a decision about its membership of the group.

BHP also said on Tuesday that it would remain a member of the influential mining industry lobby group, the Minerals Council of Australia, but put the group on notice about its activities on climate and energy policy.

BHP highlighted two “material differences” on climate and energy policy between itself and the MCA, and said it would review its membership of the group if it advocated positions that were not aligned with its own views.

BHP expressed concern that the MCA had advocated for High Efficiency Low Emissions coal-fired electricity generation.

BHP said the MCA had “publicly called for policy changes that are more technology specific and interventionist in relation to High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal. For instance, the MCA has called for governments to use existing or new mechanisms to fund a new baseload coal plant in the Latrobe Valley. Similarly, the MCA has suggested that the emissions intensity threshold of the Clean Energy Target recommended by the Finkel Review should be set relative to technology specific factors (i.e. to accommodate new coal generation).”

The miner said it believed that “energy markets should be both fuel and technology neutral, and should not artificially favour one type of technology over another”. And it added that government intervention in energy and resources markets should only occur “in response to a demonstrated market failure and informed by cost-benefit analysis”.

The review revealed that BHP paid a subscription fee of $1.86 million in 2016 to the MCA, equal to 17 per cent of the lobby group’s subscription revenue.

The miner also said it would consider its “future membership” of the US Chamber of Commerce, and that it had identified four “material differences” between itself and the chamber on climate and energy policy.

In comments reported by Dow Jones Newswires the United States Chamber of Commerce signalled it would discuss the issues with BHP.

“The chamber believes that the climate is changing, and that man is contributing to these changes,” the chamber reportedly said.

“We also believe that technology and innovation, rather than unachievable federal mandates, offer the best approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change,” the chamber said.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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