The latest report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), entitled Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, has found that human activities have caused rapid and widespread changes to the world’s climate, with some of those impacts now locked in.
The report has also found that global warming of 1.5°C will be exceeded between 2021 and 2040 and will stay above 1.5°C until the end of the century, unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to net zero around or after 2050.
Dan Gocher, Director of Climate and Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said the IPCC report provides overwhelming evidence that global warming is exacerbating extreme weather and natural disasters, and Australia is no exception.
“Drought, flood, fires and extreme heat have all been supercharged by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”
Mr Gocher noted that net-zero by 2050 commitments are meaningless if they are not accompanied by substantive emissions reductions by 2030. Therefore, he said, fossil fuel expansions, including new coal, gas or oil development beyond those fields that are already producing, can no longer be afforded.
“At least 12 ASX200 companies have plans to expand fossil fuel production: Beach Energy, BHP Group, Incitec Pivot, Mineral Resources, Oil Search, Origin Energy, Santos, Seven Group, South32, WH Soul Pattinson & Co, Whitehaven Coal and Woodside Petroleum.”
“Investors in these companies must take action: demand an end to all fossil fuel expansion and escalate when companies fail to act.”
He also called for investors to address the ‘toxic’ lobbying by industry associations including the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) and the Minerals Council of Australia.
“These groups are not serious about climate action, member companies who claim to be concerned about climate change should suspend their memberships immediately.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Minerals Council of Australia, Tania Constable, rejected the claims made by the ACCR about the approach of the Australian minerals industry to environmental, social and governance issues.
“Despite the disruption of the global pandemic, MCA members have continued to act on the climate challenge and prepared appropriately for future carbon-related risks and opportunities.
“The MCA and its members support the Paris Agreement and its net zero emissions reduction goals and in recent years has led Australia’s minerals industry in making progress on ESG including:
- Releasing the first progress report on the MCA’s Climate Action Plan, showing emissions reductions already underway through adopting new technology that is transforming mine sites;
- Working with Australia’s biggest-ever alliance of environmental groups Places You Love on reforms for better environmental outcomes;
- Working to eliminate sexual harassment in the Australian mining industry, including releasing an industry policy and code of conduct;
- Updating the world-leading Water Accounting Framework, a system for transparent and meaningful reporting on site-level water use;
- Supporting industry’s capability, systems and engagement to improve First Nations partnerships including setting a new performance benchmark through the Minerals Industry Statement on First Nations partnerships;
- Supporting industry to implement anti-slavery plans and reporting, including releasing world-leading guidance on modern slavery risks arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and industry forums;
- Participating in a multisector partnership to address bribery and corruption risks in Australian businesses; and
- Implementing the Towards Sustainable Mining site-level reporting and accountability system, including adapting protocols relating to emissions reduction and biodiversity for Australia.
“The MCA also supports measures such as ARENA funding CCUS and gasified hydrogen production which will reduce emissions faster while ensuring industry can continue to operate.
“Yet the ACCR ignores or derides these practical measures and tangible progress in pursuing its campaign against the minerals industry, including a report produced by activists InfluenceMap which itself used outdated information and biased claims.
“A responsible minerals sector is not only important in providing the prosperity crucial to Australia’s post-COVID recovery, it is also helping to sustain and improve the lives of millions around the world while providing the critical raw materials necessary for modern and emerging economies to flourish in a decarbonised future.”