LONDON — Rio Tinto on Friday said climate change was at the heart of its new strategy, as shareholders at its first in-person annual general meeting (AGM) in two years in London demanded the miner set clear targets to cut indirect emissions.
Rio Tinto recorded its best ever annual profit in 2021 and gave shareholders a record full-year dividend of $16.8 billion, boosted by higher iron ore prices and strong demand from top consumer China.
The Anglo-Australian miner’s reputation has however suffered from a report it published in February laying bare bullying, racism and sexism in the company, and the shutdown by the Serbian government of its lithium project in the country in January.
“We have a lot of work to do – but I believe we are on the right path,” Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm told the AGM.
Rio in October announced a $7.5 billion plan to reduce emissions by 2030, seeking to halve its Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions – direct emissions by the company and certain types of indirect emissions – by the end of the decade.
Rio has however not detailed how it intends to cut Scope 3, or customers’ emissions, but said it is working with partners.
“Considering Rio Tinto’s heavy Scope 3 footprint, (which) counts for 95% of total emissions, the absence of concrete targets stands out as a concern,” said proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), which provides voting recommendations for shareholders.
Investment manager Sarasin and Partners voted against Rio’s financial accounts and the reappointment of auditor KPMG, saying it is unclear how the costs of achieving carbon commitments have been incorporated in the company’s financial statements.
Rio is dual-listed in London and Sydney and the votes will be counted and made public at its AGM in Melbourne on May 5. (Reporting by Clara Denina in London and Helen Reid in Johannesburg; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)