Home > Blog > Fortescue avoids tough questions on climate

Fortescue avoids tough questions on climate

9 November 2017

9 November 2017

Shareholders questioned Fortescue on matters of climate

Yesterday Fortescue Metals Group failed to give a clear time frame for implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). As one of Australia’s major energy users, Fortescue must demonstrate how it plans to deal with both the physical and transitional risks associated with a changing climate.

At Fortescue’s Annual General Meeting in Perth, a shareholder asked if and when the company would be implementing the TCFD recommendations. Chairman Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest said that the board had talked about the recommendations but didn’t indicate a time-frame for implementation.

With the company’s FY2017 emissions coming in at 1.717 million tonnes of CO2,  Fortescue must drastically curb its emissions if it is to play its part in the transition to a low carbon world and economy. A question to the auditor as to whether climate change was assessed as material risk to the business was met with a bizarre reply. What this cryptic answer actually means is unclear. What is clear though, is that by being coy, Fortescue risks losing the trust of both its shareholders and the public. Listen below.

Is gas the answer?

Earlier this year Fortescue CEO Nev Power commented on the government’s energy policy, calling for more access to natural gas (LNG)  in order to ease a short term focus on emissions reduction. Unfortunately expanding gas usage is inconsistent with tackling climate change; increased reliance will only lock in emissions for decades to come.

Power said, ‘Focusing totally on emissions reduction is leading to very expensive, very unreasonable power costs for Australian families… we have an abundance of [natural gas] in Australia so it has the potential to provide low cost power to Australian families’.  With new research revealing that governments have been drastically underestimating methane emissions from natural gas, it’s clearly not the clean alternative gas producers have been claiming.

Given climate change is already having a tangible impact on society, it’s important companies like Fortescue help combat this global crisis and stop shifting the focus away from the need to reduce emissions. Being clear about the company’s stance on climate is absolutely critical and a move away from fossil fuels such as LNG is necessary.

Is your super invested in Fortescue and other fossil fuel companies? Find out here and tell your super fund to stop funding an unsafe future.