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Big institutions back Rio Tinto resolution

2 May 2018

2 May 2018

A resolution calling on Rio Tinto to publish the payments that it makes to groups lobbying on energy and climate policy, and to review whether such memberships are consistent with Rio’s stated support for emissions reductions, featured prominently at the company’s annual general meeting today. 

The resolution was created by ACCR and co-filed with major investors Local Government Super, the Church of England Pension Board and the Seventh Swedish National Pension Fund.

‘In Australia, in the space of just five years, we have gone from global leaders on climate and energy policy to global laggards….Let me be clear: the global fossil fuels lobby has one objective: to slow the world’s transition,’  commented Brynn O’Brien from ACCR while advocating today for the resolution. 

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The Minerals Council (MCA) have been instrumental in campaigning against climate action in Australia and Rio Tinto is known to be one of the biggest funders of the MCA. Adam Matthews from the Church of England Pension Board, one of the co-filers, has demanded Rio Tinto end support for lobby groups that undermine the aims of Paris climate agreement.

America’s pension fund CALPERS and Australian superannuation funds HESTA and CBUS all voted in favour of the resolution. However, according to the Australian Financial Review, other big Australian superannuation funds like AustralianSuper voted against it.

The Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement and climate featured heavily at the AGM. One shareholder asked when Rio Tinto would produce a scenario analysis, and if it would be based on the IEA 450 scenario. Although Rio Tinto’s board was vague about when the scenario would be published, they confirmed the IEA 450 scenario would be used. The shareholder then asked the board if they were aware that the
450 scenario had only a 50% chance of keeping warming below 2ºC, which they didn’t answer directly but seemed aware of. 

When another shareholder asked why Rio Tinto had sold its remaining thermal coal assets the board explained it was an economic decision based on the future of the assets and acknowledged it clearly had implications for climate change.

It is lobby groups like the Minerals Council that are putting the brakes on climate action. Rio Tinto must review its membership, and major investors like AustralianSuper and other super funds must vote in favour of climate action. Click here access our recent report to see if your superfund is voting in favour of climate action.