The $10 billion Vision Super fund has called on Australian institutional investors to pressure BHP to suspend its membership with industry groups whose actions they say undermine the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The industry super fund wants its peers to vote for the resolution they have co-filed for BHP’s Australian annual general meeting next week, which already has the support of other investors overseeing $12.3 trillion.

“A vote for BHP management on this resolution is a vote against sensible climate and energy policy in this country,” Vision Super chief executive officer Michael Wyrsch said. “And that’s a vote against the certainty business needs to invest in Australia.”

The world’s largest mining company has felt the pressure from their UK-based investors when around 22 per cent, including the Church of England Pensions Board, voted for the resolution at their London AGM earlier this month. Another 7 per cent abstained. Vision Super says it is hoping to see an even stronger result in Australia, which represents 58 per cent of BHP’s shareholder base.

“When a company takes a stance on climate policy that is diluted by the industry associations to which it belongs, this is a significant concern,” said Australian Council of Superannuation Investors CEO Louise Davidson, whose members collectively oversee more than $2.2 trillion. “When there is a disconnect between the company’s position on climate issues and those held by associations they belong to, investors will apply greater scrutiny.”

The mining company’s membership with the Minerals Council of Australia and Coal21, are of particular concern to campaigners who say their lobbying is inconsistent with the goals of the Paris agreement to limit climate change to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. Australian Super said in September that they had been engaging with BHP on the matter.

“We’re urging other industry super funds in particular to support the resolution,” said Vision Super’s Wyrsch. “BHP is a major funder of industry associations that are lobbying against sensible climate policy, and their suspension of these memberships would hit them where it hurts.”

Sarah Jones worked for Bloomberg News in London for more than 12 years covering equity markets and global asset management. Prior to moving to the UK, she worked for Australian Associated Press in Sydney covering economics and monetary policy.
Leave a comment