Industry associations play a number of roles in civil society. They provide a platform for the sharing of global best practice in the interests of the industry and those with whom the industry works. They develop technical standards and public policy positions. They provide a forum for debate between members of a particular sector in developing those policy positions. They do not, however, and nor should they, represent the views of any single member.
Some associations in which BHP participates are sector specific, such as the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA), which engages in advocacy activities related to the resources sector while also providing a forum to advance industry standards. Some are issue specific, such as the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), a US-based organisation that focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting clean energy. We also participate in global associations that seek to advance industry environmental, social and workplace standards, such as the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).
Industry associations perform a number of functions that can lead to better outcomes on policy, practice and standards for the sector. By bringing together the combined technical expertise and experience of members in areas such as safety, health and environment, the ICMM, for example, adopts a leadership position on sustainable development in the resources sector. Similarly, the MCA makes an important contribution to Australian industry practice in areas including health and safety, water accounting, land use and workforce diversity.
We have long held the view that active participation in industry associations provides a leadership opportunity. We believe that by working within associations, we can, with other like-minded members, seek to exert a positive influence on the industry as a whole. This does not mean, however, that we will always agree with every position or approach that every industry association to which we belong adopts on every issue. This is particularly the case where the association’s membership is large and the mandate is broad, covering a wide range of issues.
The role of each member of an association is to articulate its view in a clear and constructive way, and to seek to influence the association through free and open debate. This is certainly how we see BHP’s role within the industry associations to which we belong - both in Australia and globally. It is not the role of any association to represent BHP and there are times when our views are not aligned. We keep under review our alignment with, and membership of, industry associations. We also communicate our own views directly, through submissions, media commentary, speeches, reports and other engagements.
Finding effective solutions to complex challenges requires a transparent exchange of diverse views. At BHP, we believe that transparency is pivotal to making more informed decisions. We remain committed to sharing our views.
Alignment on climate and energy policy
BHP keeps under regular review its alignment with the climate and energy policy positions taken by industry associations on matters of significance to BHP. The sections below provide further information on outcomes of the review we committed to publish in 2017, and our register of identified material differences on climate and energy policy.
Industry association review
In September 2017, BHP committed to publish (by 31 December 2017):
- a list of the material differences between the positions BHP holds on climate and energy policy, and the advocacy positions on climate and energy policy taken by industry associations to which BHP belongs; and
- the outcomes of BHP’s current review of its membership of those industry associations.
The report setting out how we met these commitments can be accessed via the link below:
BHP Industry Association Review (PDF 177 kb)
Industry association review: update
As part of the Industry association review, BHP committed to make determinations in relation to our membership of the US Chamber of Commerce and the World Coal Association by 31 March 2018. Information on these determinations can be found here.
Register of material differences
US Chamber of Commerce
Our 2017 review identified four material differences between BHP and the Chamber on climate and energy policy. These differences relate to the policy areas of: emissions reduction targets; the Paris Agreement; the goal of restricting global warming to 2°C; and putting a price on carbon.
In March 2018, we determined that, due to the broader benefits BHP receives from membership, we would remain a member of the Chamber, subject to a number of actions. One of these actions included keeping our membership of the Chamber under review. We also accepted the invitation of the Chamber to join its Energy and Environment Committee.
Our 2018 review concluded that the US Chamber has largely refrained from policy activity or advocacy in relation to the differences identified, consistent with Principle 3 of our Industry Association Principles. Our review also found that BHP continues to receive benefit from the broader activities of the Chamber.
On April 8, 2019, the Chamber published a new climate change statement. We believe the statement represents an enhancement to the Chamber’s approach to climate change and has the potential to make a constructive contribution to policy discussion.
Based on the findings of our 2018 review and the Chamber’s new climate change statement, we have decided to remain a member of the Chamber at this time, subject to a number of actions. These actions will include: monitoring the Chamber’s ongoing advocacy approach for alignment with its new statement; continuing to expect that the Chamber will refrain from policy activity or advocacy on issues where no broad industry consensus exists; and keeping our membership of the Chamber under review.