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Climate Change: A need for resilience and innovation

Stan Pillay, our lead in Energy & Carbon Effectiveness, articulates Anglo American’s position on climate change and provides details on our new publication: ‘Climate Change: Our plans, policies and progress’. 

Climate change is the defining challenge of our era and it requires a clear plan to combat its effects. As a large multinational organisation, and a responsible steward of valuable resources, we recognise and acknowledge our role in helping to address it. Beyond the ethical imperative, in the last few years I have witnessed how investors and stakeholders expect us to understand the risks and opportunities that come with the changing climate and to share this knowledge with them. These factors, combined with the need for increasing the climate resilience of our business and our communities, makes addressing climate change a critical issue for our business success. 

It is this mandate that drives my day-to-day work at Anglo American, working with colleagues from across the world to help deliver our company-wide climate change strategy. 

Our products and climate change

Our products are essential to almost every aspect of modern life and are critical to a successful transition to a low-carbon economy. From the platinum group metals needed for catalytic converters and fuel cells, to the copper needed for intelligent buildings and renewable energy, the low-carbon economy is relying upon responsible miners to take action.

We are also a producer of thermal coal, used to generate electricity, and metallurgical coal, used to produce steel. As coal producers, we recognise the importance of working with stakeholders in the energy chain to reduce the contribution of GHG emissions from this sector. We also realise that coal will continue to be contested in society, so we are unlikely to make any significant future financial commitments to thermal coal in the long term. However, this change will happen over time and, in the interim, we will continue to manage our coal mines ensuring that value is optimised for all our stakeholders, environmental safeguards are in place and technological innovation reduces their environmental footprint.

The guidance of the SDGs

We believe we have an important part to play in the global challenge of climate change.

Back in 2015, we demonstrated our commitment by helping formulate the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), providing both input and our support.

Within the SDGs, goal 13 is aimed specifically at climate change, but the reality is that facing climate change is instrumental to meeting all the other goals. Climate change impacts are interconnected with social, economic and environmental issues. 

Meeting the SDGs will require the integration of climate-related thinking into local and global action plans, it will also will need a collaborative approach across all sectors of society. 

Our approach to tackling climate change

There are a number of different ways that we are helping to tackle climate change, which have applications specifically for Anglo American's operations as well as the broader external environment.

1. We are investing in innovation
Technology is changing at an astonishing rate. We are on the cusp of technological change which will change the face of the mining industry and Anglo American intends to be the leader in this space. Through our FutureSmart MiningTM innovation programme, we gathered experts from parallel and other industries to help us find practical solutions to the challenges of energy, water and mining. We are also fostering innovation in other companies – through our PGM investment programme, for example, we are supporting those that will develop the climate-change solutions of the future.

2. We are embedding climate resilience in how we run our business
By 2020 our whole business is targeted to achieve an 8% improvement in energy use and a 22% saving in GHG emissions. This year, our Board approved the inclusion of these targets within the remuneration plan for our senior executives. We also take climate-change considerations into account when we evaluate the feasibility of new projects or examine our operations’ risk profiles. We are working with recognised experts on climate science, and embedding adaptation to physical climate risks. 

3. The long-term goal
We are working towards a goal of designing a carbon-neutral mine by 2030. This is our moonshot, an aspiration that will get our whole business working together because we know climate change is not an issue anyone can tackle in isolation. 

As we continue with our work to address climate change, in the years to come, our response to climate change will differentiate our position in the transition to the future low-carbon world.

We hope, through our recently released publication: "Climate Change: Our plans, policies and progress", to share how we are responding to the risks and opportunities posed by climate change. 

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