BHP Billiton’s climate change report released overnight sends a strong message to governments that big business is taking climate change seriously, but its assumption that fossil fuels will be the major source of electricity in coming decades should be challenged, Oxfam said today.
BHP Billiton’s report, Climate Change Portfolio Analysis, calls for a strong outcome from the Paris climate negotiations, emphasises the importance of carbon pricing, and outlines the implications for its asset portfolio of various international climate action scenarios.
Oxfam Australia’s climate change policy advisor Kelly Dent urged other businesses to follow suit and disclose such analysis.
“BHP Billiton’s disclosure should send an emphatic signal to governments as they work to finalise a new global climate agreement,” Ms Dent said.
“The message is clear: if a strong and effective international agreement is reached, then business will make the adjustments necessary to help keep global warming below 2C.”
However, Ms Dent said the report did not adequately acknowledge the rapidly changing energy landscape.
“It is renewable energy, not coal, that is working for communities around the world – from solar energy in the Pacific to new ways of powering Africa, China and India,” she said.
As well as failing to improve energy access for the world’s poorest people, burning coal contributes to hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year due to air pollution and is the single biggest contributor to climate change, pushing people around the world deeper into poverty.
“We are urging our new Prime Minister to change direction from the previous myopic focus on coal to acknowledging the increasing action being taken across all sections of society, including big business,” Ms Dent said.
The report from BHP Billiton has followed a string of recent positive developments, including China’s announcement that it will introduce a national emissions trading scheme in 2017, and more countries including Brazil submitting their provisional contributions to emissions reductions to the Paris agreement.
Whilst BHP Billiton’s analysis is welcome, Oxfam cautioned that much more needs to be done by both business and government to respond to the global climate crisis, and that the world must rapidly phase out use of fossil fuels.
“Meeting the twin challenges of eliminating poverty and tackling global climate change will require an ongoing transformation in the way the world produces energy and far greater support to vulnerable countries with adapting to climate impacts,” Ms Dent said. “Nonetheless, this is another encouraging sign of momentum ahead of Paris.”
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