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Organizational Change
B.H.P. Billiton to Sever Ties with World Coal Association Over Climate Change Stance

Despite the emergence of new carbon-capture technologies and campaigns spinning fossil fuels as a saving grace, there’s no denying that coal is on a downward spiral. Companies that refuse to recognize the resource’s link to climate change and begin embracing alternatives stand to do more harm than good to the future of their business. B.H.P. Billiton, a British-Australian mining company, has decided to follow this second line of reasoning by parting ways with the World Coal Association (WCA), an international lobbying group for the coal industry.

In an industry association review published last week, B.H.P. cited differences in policies on climate change and energy as the main driver for the decision. The company made its stance on climate change clear, that “the warming of the climate is unequivocal, the human influence is clear and physical impacts are unavoidable.”

The report also revealed that the company intends to review its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in light of the US’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

“Active participation within industry associations is an opportunity for B.H.P. to improve its own performance and to support industry as a whole in making a positive contribution,” said Geoff Healy, Chief External Affairs Officer at B.H.P. Billiton, in a statement. “This review makes clear the principles for our ongoing participation in industry bodies. While we won’t always agree with our industry associations, we will continue to call out material differences where they exist and we will take action where necessary...”

“Importantly, we will also continue to communicate our own views directly to investors, governments and civil society and we will redouble our efforts to engage, clearly and constructively, with our industry associations to positively influence the position they take on matters important to our company.”

B.H.P. Billiton has called on the WCA, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to provide a response before a final decision is reached on 31 March 2018.

In a statement, Mick Buffier, WCA’s Chairman, said: “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.” The Association further went on to say that it hopes to “be able to continue working with B.H.P. on this basis in the future.”

B.H.P.’s move is the latest in a growing industry-wide movement towards greater social and environmental awareness. Companies such as Shell, Statoil, Ørsted and Total have also taken up the banner for a low-carbon future, investing in renewables in order to prevent the loss of public support and future-fit their operations.

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