From the NYT: B.H.P. Billiton, Acknowledging Climate Change, to Quit Coal Group: 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 FT's take is essentially the same. You can read BHP's own report on the release of the report. The report is apparently In accordance with the commitments given on 18 September 2017, but I couldn't find what those commitments were.
The interesting bit to me is withdrawl from the World Coal Association, but before I come to that, an oddity: Twenty-one industry associations were assessed as holding an active position on climate and energy policy, and were included within the scope of the review. The review focused on 10 climate and energy policies identified as being of key importance to BHP, with seven material differences in position identified across three associations: The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA); The United States Chamber of Commerce; The World Coal Association (WCA). So of 21 industry associations they only found something to worry about in 3 of them? Odd. But, never mind that for now. Onto the WCA.
BHP's report considers "Material differences". They find quite a few with the US chambers of commerce, but with the WCA all they can find is "Technology neutrality", which BHP likes (We believe energy markets should be both fuel and technology neutral, and should not artificially favour one type of technology over another. We also believe governments should focus on setting policies to facilitate efficient markets. Government intervention in resources and energy markets should only be in response to a demonstrated market failure, and informed by cost-benefit analysis) and the WCA sort-of likes (The World Coal Association (WCA) has expressed support for technology neutrality in climate and energy policy frameworks11. The WCA, however, has also called for policy changes that are more technology-specific. For instance, the WCA supported abandoning the proposed Australian Clean Energy Target because in their view abandoning the Clean Energy Target would improve the investment climate for HELE generation).
So as a stated reason to withdraw from the WCA, this looks a little thin. A bit later on we see possibly a bit more explanation: BHP derives benefits from its membership of the WCA, though the scope of these benefits is narrow... the role of the WCA is primarily focused on information provision,
it generally does not manage initiatives aimed at improving the performance of member companies... This is largely because such initiatives
are driven by national associations and/or the International Council on Mining and Metals. Which might be code for "the WCA only does lobbying", other Real Organisations do the hard stuff.
They conclude In relation to the WCA, BHP has reached a preliminary
view that, in light of the nature of the material
difference, and the narrower activities of benefit
to BHP from membership, it will exit as a member but they'll give the WCA a chance to respond before making up their minds. So it almost seems like the main reason for leaving is that the WCA is a bit useless. Or at least the official reason. Perhaps they are also an embarrassment, too.