Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

BHP Billiton: Destroying the planet for profit

Reading Time: 2 minutes

BHP Billiton is the world’s largest resources company and the biggest company in Australia. It has over 100 operations in 25 nations across 6 continents. Last year it posted a record annual profit of $US13.42 billion!

BHP Billiton is also guilty of some of the world’s biggest environmental crimes. It produces 50 million tonnes of greenhouse pollution annually, equivalent to about 10 per cent of Australia’s entire emissions!

This multinational giant to this day has failed to set any targets for gross reductions to its greenhouse emissions. Instead of setting a target to reduce emissions BHP Billiton has set a target to reduce ‘energy intensity’ by 13 per cent by 2010. This would allow the company’s emissions to continue to INCREASE, so long as the company also continues to grow.

While the Socialist Party supports the need for people to make personal changes to their lives to reduce the effects of climate change, the main culprits in producing greenhouse gases are big companies like BHP Billiton. It has been estimated that the changes we make at the personal level would account for at best 20 per cent of the change required, while scientific estimates say the world needs a minimum of 80 per cent reduction.

As big business polluters like BHP Billiton are making massive profits, the priority should be for them to pay to solve the problem of global warming. BHP Billiton spends far more on its sophisticated public relations strategy to promote an ‘environmental friendly’ image rather than actually reducing its emissions. We are here to put the spotlight on BHP’s environmental record and call on governments to make big business pay for their crimes.

We need action!

Governments should immediately legislate to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need a 60% reduction by 2020 and a 90% reduction by 2030 (compared to 1990 levels). Companies like BHP should be forced by law to follow suit.

Penalties for companies that break the law should be increased and those that claim they can’t make profits by adhering to the targets to reduce emissions should be nationalised. If you can’t run a company without destroying the planet it should be handed over to the public.

We also need greater regulation to ensure safety and protection for our environment, and for those who work in these industries. Despite reported and continued uranium leaks at the Olympic dam mine, its currently being expanded without increased regulation. While recent figures continue to show that mining has the highest rate of deaths of any industry in the country, and indeed the world.

Any plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions needs to go side by side with a plan to phase out coal fired power stations and increase investment in renewable energy. We also need massive investment into our public transport system to make it more integrated, frequent and free.

By Socialist Party reporters


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