Glencore Climate Plan in Spotlight on Concern Over Methane Emissions

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A Glencore Plc climate plan is facing greater scrutiny following a report that the company is understating methane emissions from some of its Australian coal mines.

The releases were so significant they caused the global commodities trader to underestimate its global operational emissions by 11% to 24% between 2018 and 2021, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility said in a report. The analysis used methane emissions estimates made by scientists at the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, who relied on satellite observations of the potent greenhouse gas.

Glencore said in a statement that “there are concerns and questions in relation to the use of satellite technology to measure methane emissions reliably and accurately from mining” and disputed sections of the original SRON report.

The latest criticism comes after  Glass Lewis & Co. also urged Glencore shareholders to vote down the climate progress report. The influential proxy advisory firm said there was a lack of board oversight of the climate plan and insufficient clarity on how the company may interpret support for its strategy-setting process. The vote is set to take place at Glencore’s annual general meeting in Zug, Switzerland on Aug. 28.


See also: Glencore Investors Urged by Glass Lewis to Reject Climate Plan

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The SRON scientists estimated Glencore’s Hail Creek coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin spewed between 123,000 and 263,000 metric tons of methane last year. That amount of the climate-wrecking gas has the same short-term warming impact as the annual emissions from anywhere between about 2.2 million and 4.8 million U.S. cars.

Methane emissions from Hail Creek were at least 13 times greater than what Glencore disclosed in its 2019 emissions inventory, while those from the Oaky North coal mine were at least double, the ACCR said in a statement accompanying the report. 

Shareholders should vote against Glencore’s progress report on its climate plan because the under-counting is a “material risk for shareholders,” the research and shareholder advocacy organization said. It also recommended investors oppose the re-election of Peter Coates as chair of the Health, Safety, Environment and Communities Committee.

Methane emissions from the global energy sector are about 70% higher than what’s reported in official data, according to the International Energy Agency’s Methane Tracker report.


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