By Mia Becker-Hansen | Contributor
The chairman of the Anglo-Australian multinational mining, metals and petroleum company – BHP – has come under criticism from shareholders after stating that fossil fuels will be part of the energy supply mix for decades to come.
Speaking at the company’s annual Australian meeting, chairman Ken MacKenzie also addressed the destruction of the 46,000-year-old Aboriginal cave by rival company Rio Tinto, after they failed to properly inform the traditional owners.
BHP has confirmed its intention to continue its work with culturally and environmentally-damaging nearby projects, causing the destruction of 40 Aboriginal heritage sites. The Banjima people have already told a parliamentary inquiry that they have had to “trade away their heritage” to mining companies. BHP has set up a new heritage consultation body with the Banjima people in order to combat the destruction.
The oil company plans to close or sell mines that produce coal within two years; this is part of a plan to cut emissions by 30% within the 10 years. BHP have said that this is in an effort to comply with the international Paris agreement which is set to limit the rise in global heating.
These emission reduction plans have already caused upset; the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility’s director of climate and environment, Dan Gocher, said:
“BHP fails to deliver any meaningful outcomes in terms of actual emissions reduction, It needs to try harder. BHP should be aiming for a 40-60% reduction in all of its emissions by 2030.” The company is ranked the 19th largest contributor of carbon to the atmosphere worldwide.
While they appear to be planning on cutting down on coal production, the company continues its investment in gas and oil. MacKenzie told shareholders that the company will continue to invest in fossil fuels for the time being: “We accept the science around climate change and we support the Paris goals,” he said. “The reality is that all current plausible scenarios show that fossil fuels will be part of the energy mix for decades.” Chief executive Mike Henry supported the chairman, saying that the company sees oil and gas as “something to invest in for the short to medium term”.
The Oil Change International released a study in 2016 that stated that if all fossil fuels that had already been mined by 2016 were used up and not replaced, the world would reach just below the 1.5̊C temperature goal set by the Paris climate agreement. They said: “The most powerful climate policy lever is also the simplest: stop digging for more fossil fuels.” Unfortunately this does not appear to have resonated with BHP as they continue investing in damaging fossil fuels and continue to contribute to the increasing volumes of greenhouse gases.
MacKenzie continued by expressing that BHP was an “essential company” which saw “great opportunity” in the current unsettled world caused by coronavirus-caused recessions, as well as the ever-looming threat of global warming. He stated:
“Our products are essential for global economic growth and the transition to a lower-carbon world. We provide the materials that improve the lives of billions of people in developing nations, and help engineers realise the dream of cleaner power, more efficient transportation, communications and battery storage.”
In a world where climate change is a very real and pressing issue, the actions of large oil companies can impact our futures to a high degree. While there is certainly money to be made in the short-term in the oil industry, its negative impacts are hard to ignore. Hopefully, companies like BHP realise the future must be a green future, or we will have no future at all.Science and Technology