BHP stung by investor rebellion over climate lobbying motion

Mining giant BHP was stung by a shareholder rebellion as almost a quarter of investors called on the company to stop lobbying against climate change reform.

The Church of England pensions board tabled a motion at BHP’s annual general meeting on Thursday which would have forced it to suspend membership of lobby groups that work against the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

At the meeting, 22.16% of shareholder votes were made in favour of the motion, while 7.7% withheld votes, as the motion failed to pass.

However, the vote had secured significant support in favour of leaving the industry lobby groups from key investors such as Aberdeen Standard Investments.

The Church of England said asset managers holding more than 10 billion dollars (£7.8 billion) in assets had backed the shareholder resolution on lobbying.

It said it had backing from asset managers including Actiam, ACCR and Grok Ventures.

Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement for the Church of England pensions board, said the vote sends an “unequivocal signal” to BHP’s board over climate change.

He said: “It is essential that lobbying be used as a constructive force and not one designed to delay, divert and disrupt the long-term interests of the company and its shareholders.

“Sophisticated, sustained and impactful negative lobbying continues despite promises made by BHP in 2017 that trade bodies should cease lobbying where its members are not aligned.

“The board now needs to urgently review its approach and set a new standard for how companies and their associations respond to the complex challenge of climate change.

“Today‘s vote makes it clear that the world’s largest mining company must play its part.”

However, a significant majority voted against the resolution after proxy advisory groups ISS and Glass Lewis called on shareholders to vote against it.

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