Minerals Council of Australia (MCA)

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Sydney, Australia

Climate Lobbying Overview: Despite nominally positive top-line messaging on climate change in 2020 and 2021, the Minerals Council of Australia’s (MCA) engagement on climate policy remains inconsistent with scientific advice from the IPCC on delivering the Paris Agreement’s goals.

Top-line Messaging on Climate Policy: In June 2021, the Minerals Council of Australia published its Climate Action Plan Progress Report which included positive top-line messaging on climate action, including support for action to reach net zero emissions as well as support for the Paris Agreement. However, the timeline for this target was undefined, making it unclear whether this offers support for net zero by 2050 in line with IPCC recommendations. In 2019, MCA also consistently advocated in favour of the use of Kyoto carry-over credits to meet Australia’s climate commitments, depressing federal-level climate ambition. More recently, in October 2020, a spokesman of the MCA said use of Kyoto carryover credits was “an issue for the government”; however, the MCA does not appear to have clearly supported ending their use. Furthermore, the MCA’s support for climate policy (for example, on its website as of August 2021) has generally been qualified that any policy should not impact the international competitiveness of Australian industry and should be market based “where no one technology is favoured to the exclusion of others”

Engagement with Climate-Related Regulations: MCA appears to have generally not supported GHG emissions regulations in Australia and, in some cases, abroad. For example, in a press release from July 2021 CEO Tania Constable appeared to oppose the EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, calling it a “trade disruptive policy”. In March 2020, MCA also opposed the inclusion of Scope 3 emissions under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme, limiting options to set binding targets for Scope 3 emissions in the future. In July 2019, the MCA advocated against the Victorian Government’s adoption of a net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 state-level target, arguing that the implementation of state-based targets threatened the national GHG emissions reduction target. Additionally, in a consultation response from September 2019, the group appeared to push for weaker emissions baselines under the Safeguard Mechanism to protect the competitiveness of Australian industry.

In recent years, MCA has also increasingly engaged on climate issues in planning and environmental regulations. In a 2019 submission to the Productivity Commission in Australia on Resources Sector Regulations, MCA described the inclusion of climate considerations in both the NSW’s planning permit process and the Western Australian EPA’s greenhouse gas assessment guidance for new projects as ‘regulatory creep’. In April 2020, MCA opposed the inclusion of a mechanism to reduce GHGs under Australia’s landmark environmental legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. MCA appeared to have also opposed renewable energy legislation. In February 2019, the organization stated it did not support renewable targets or subsidies, blaming them for the increase of Australian energy prices. In September 2019, MCA also reaffirmed its opposition to the federal Renewable Energy Target in Australia, emphasizing the cost of technology-specific policies to support renewables.

MCA has also been active in lobbying on the economic recovery from COVID-19. In August 2020, MCA advocated to dilute the renewable energy mandate of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to open the agencies up to include investing in non-renewables. Additionally, in April 2020 MCA Chair Helen Coonan publicly advocated for a number of measures to support Australia's mining industry in response to COVID-19, including reduced tax rates, faster project approvals for mining projects, and government support for the exploration of minerals in greenfield areas.

Positioning on Energy Transition: Since the start of 2018, MCA has begun framing its lobbying positions on the energy mix around the need for a ‘technology neutral’ energy policy and support for a ‘measured transition’.

Despite this, the group's advocacy activities continue to strongly emphasize the role of coal in the energy mix. In their submission to the Technology Investment Roadmap from June 2020, the Minerals Council expressed support for retrofitting coal power plants with CCUS, and using coal with CCS to produce hydrogen; however, it did not appear to support a drastically reduced role for coal in the energy mix in line with IPCC recommendations. Furthermore, in testimony to the Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth in June 2021, CEO Tania Constable argued “strong demand is in the Asian region… means we are going to see coal in the mix for some time.” Before the Australian Federal elections in 2019, MCA CEO Tania Constable publicly pressured the Federal Labour Party to unequivocally support the coal industry. After the election, she argued that there was now a clear mandate for the expansion of coal projects, including the Adani coal mine, and called for the Queensland government to streamline the regulatory process to allow greater expansion of coal production in the region. In 2020, MCA continued to push the coal agenda; the group supported the expansion of Whitehaven’s Vickery coal mine in August 2020.

In December 2020, the MCA lobbied to weaken the EU's classification system for green investments, the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, advocating the inclusion of all low-emission technologies such as coal and gas with CCUS and nuclear under a "technology-neutral" approach.

Main Web Site Social Media CDP Responses Legislative Consultations Media Reports CEO Messaging Financial Disclosures
Communication of Climate Science
1 NS NA 1 NS 1 NA
Alignment with IPCC on Climate Action
0 1 NA 0 -1 0 NA
Supporting the Need for Regulations
0 NS NA -1 -1 -1 NA
Support of UN Climate Process
0 1 NA 1 0 0 NA
Transparency on Legislation
Carbon Tax
-2 NS NA -2 -2 -2 NA
Emissions Trading
-1 NS NA 0 NS 1 NA
Energy and Resource Efficiency
Renewable Energy
0 -1 NA -1 -1 -1 NA
Energy Transition & Zero Carbon Technologies
-1 -1 NA -1 -2 -1 NA
GHG Emission Regulation
-1 -1 NA -1 -1 1 NA
Disclosure on Relationships