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Glencore faces Australian challenge over net-zero strategy

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: The site of the former Glencore Westside coal mine in Killingworth

LONDON (Reuters) - Environmental lawyers ClientEarth said on Thursday they were supporting a complaint filed in Australia against Glencore alleging the miner and trader could be misleading investors and the public over its climate strategy.

In a letter dated Sept. 2, several green groups including the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to investigate Glencore's statements detailing its plan to hit net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The complaint alleges Glencore "is expanding its coal production in Australia."

"Despite Glencore publicly claiming to have Paris-aligned decarbonisation plans in place, the legal review of Glencore's activities reveals that the company is using a decarbonisation pathway that fails to represent its coal business, which is the largest driver of its emissions," ClientEarth said.

The ACCC and ASIC did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment outside normal business hours on whether they would launch investigations.

Glencore has set out plans to remain the responsible owner of its thermal coal mines until depletion by the mid-2040s, as part of efforts to help the world reach the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of capping global warming at 1.5-degrees Celsius.

"We will review the materials and claims made by the EDO and their clients and are happy to assist ASIC and the ACCC with any enquiries they may have on these matters," a Glencore spokesperson said in an email.

As the Swiss-based company is listed in London, ClientEarth said it also urged UK regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to "coordinate with the Australian securities regulator, ASIC, in a robust response".

The FCA, however, has not been formally asked to investigate the claims, ClientEarth said, because "regulators agree to and often do cooperate internationally on major cross-border issues such as this."

The FCA was not immediately available for comment.

Thermal coal, the most polluting fossil fuel, has seen its use and prices soar on the back of Chinese power shortages and a European gas squeeze exacerbated by a reduction in supplies by leading producer Russia on mounting tensions with the West over the war in Ukraine.

European countries including Germany, which heavily relies on Russian gas, have taken steps to temporarily reactivate coal-fired power plants as an alternative.

ClientEarth and other activists have taken similar actions against other companies over their net-zero claims, among them energy company TotalEnergies and airline KLM.

(Reporting by Clara Denina Additional reporting by Kirstin Ridley and Simon Jessop; Editing by Mark Potter)