Media release

BHP must commit to cutting fossil fuel production

The Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility​ (ACCR) is calling on BHP to commit to cutting fossil fuel production in its forthcoming climate targets.

Commenting ahead of BHP’s release of its updated emissions targets on 10 September, Dan Gocher, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) said:

“BHP’s Scope 3 emissions from the processing of iron ore and the combustion of its sales of coal, oil and gas account for more than 90% of its carbon footprint (see tables below). While reducing operational emissions is of utmost importance, the easiest way BHP could reduce emissions is to leave reserves in the ground.

“One of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, BP, made such a commitment last month, demonstrating that it clearly is possible. Anything less than a commitment from BHP to cap then reduce production of fossil fuels over the coming decade is simply inadequate.

“In recent weeks, BHP has announced commitments to source 50% renewable energy for its Queensland coal mining operations, and to commission five bulk carriers that will be powered by LNG rather than diesel.

“While these commitments are welcome, BHP must address the elephant in the room - its fossil fuel production.

“ACCR has long argued that BHP’s lobbying has a greater impact on Australia’s emissions than its own operations. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, BHP’s industry associations, including APPEA, the NSW Minerals Council and the Queensland Resources Council, have sought to entrench fossil fuels in the economic recovery.

“In the United States, the American Petroleum Institute has successfully lobbied the Trump Administration to rollback methane regulation and open up the Arctic for drilling. BHP must distance itself from this advocacy, and support calls for a sustainable recovery that addresses growth and the climate crisis.

“BHP’s slogan for many years has been ‘Think Big’. BHP should think big and support initiatives to develop green steel in Australia. With our iron ore reserves and vast renewable energy resources, Australia has the requisite ingredients to become a green steel powerhouse.”


ACCR has filed a shareholder resolution with BHP for consideration at its AGMs on 14 and 15 October, calling for a review of its industry associations’ advocacy through COVID-19.

Following its 2019 review of industry associations, InfluenceMap found that BHP had not “fulfilled [its] commitments to address misalignments between [its] stated positions and the lobbying of [its] industry associations on climate”, nor acted with the urgency demanded by its shareholders.

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) published a report in August that called for government support of $500 million for new gas pipeline infrastructure, incentives for further coal and gas exploration, amnesties from changes to royalties and taxes, and significant deregulation of the resources industry. The QRC has also welcomed government subsidies of $125 million for fossil fuel exploration and land releases for gas exploration, and called for the fast-tracking of coal mine approvals.

BHP Group operational greenhouse gas emissions, 2018-19 (mt CO2-e)

SourceScope 1Scope 2Total
PetroleumGulf of Mexico0.200.000.20
US Onshore0.470.000.47
Total petroleum1.240.011.25
Pampa Norte0.340.330.67
Olympic Dam0.200.470.67
Total copper1.472.944.41
Iron OreWA Iron Ore2.050.262.31
Total Iron Ore2.050.262.31
CoalQLD Coal3.981.095.07
NSW Coal0.520.090.61
Total Coal4.501.185.68
OtherNickel West0.460.530.99
Combined Total9.724.9214.64
Source: BHP Group Sustainability Report 2019, p81

BHP Group Scope 3 emissions, 2018-19 (mt CO2-e)

SourceScope 3
UpstreamPurchased goods and services17.3
Fuel and energy related activities1.3
Upstream transportation and distribution3.6
Business travel0.1
Employee commuting0.1
DownstreamDownstream transportation and distribution4
Processing of sold productsIron ore to steel299.6
Copper cathode to copper wire5.1
Use of sold productsMetallurgical coal111.4
Energy coal67
Natural gas28.3
Crude oil and condensates23.3
Natural gas liquids2.8
Combined Total563
Source: BHP Group Sustainability Report 2019, p81