Acknowledging Climate Change, Mining Monolith to Quit Lobbying Group

MELBOURNE, Australia — One of the world’s largest coal companies, acknowledging the growing momentum toward addressing climate change, said it planned to pull out of a major industry group over its environmental stances.

B.H.P. Billiton, the British-Australian mining company, said in a report Tuesday that it planned to withdraw from the World Coal Association, an international lobbying group, because of differences in climate and energy policies. The report also noted that B.H.P. would review its relationship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in light of the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord.

The move highlights the delicate considerations huge mining companies must contend with as they seek to balance profit with social and environmental awareness.

Though carefully worded, B.H.P.’s report also takes issue with the Trump administration’s unilateral exit from the Paris agreement.

“While we won’t always agree with our industry associations, we will continue to call out material differences where they exist and we will take action where necessary, as we have done today,” Geoff Healy, the company’s chief external affairs officer, said in a statement.

B.H.P. invited the industry body to provide a response before it makes a final decision next March 31 on pulling out of the group. It will similarly seek a response from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce before officially withdrawing.

The report reflected the company’s unambiguous stance on climate change, noting that B.H.P. accepts “that the warming of the climate is unequivocal, the human influence is clear and physical impacts are unavoidable.”

The company also announced that it would review its relationship with the Minerals Council of Australia, the country’s foremost mining lobbying group.

Groups supporting ethical investing praised B.H.P.’s report.

“This is a message that even organizations, like B.H.P., with large coal assets, do not value aggressive anti-climate lobbying,” Brynn O’Brien, executive director of the Australiasian Center for Corporate Responsibility, said.