Rio Tinto said it pinpointed several incidents where the Minerals Council of Australia voiced support for thermal coal, which is contrary to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, Reuters reported March 26.
"This includes instances of public commentary and advocacy on thermal coal and decarbonization that is not technology neutral and is inconsistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement," Rio Tinto was quoted as saying. The company found that the mining lobby group made statements that were not endorsed by the council's board or its members.
Despite the findings, Rio Tinto will maintain its membership in the Minerals Council of Australia, in which the miner is a major backer and contributes US$2.1 million annually, as the breaches were minor, the newswire noted.
In response, the Minerals Council of Australia vowed to improve its governance and processes around advocacy. CEO Tania Constable said the mining lobby group supports the action on climate change, Australia's participation in the Paris agreement, and a transformation to a low-emissions global economy.
Despite the diversified mining major selling off the last of its coal assets in 2018, it continues to produce iron ore, a raw ingredient in the steel industry and one of the leading sources of global emissions.
Rio Tinto pledged to spend about US$1 billion over the next five years to support its climate protection initiatives, with an ultimate goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 amid rising investor pressure on companies to incorporate and report on sustainability goals.
Earlier this month, investors in Rio Tinto filed a shareholder resolution indicating dissatisfaction with the company's US$1 billion carbon reduction plans and with the lack of detail on how Rio Tinto plans to reach a target of net-zero emissions by 2050.