Coal Company Pledges to ... Mine Less Coal

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CC BY 2.0. Jennifer Woodard Madezaro

Well, this is getting interesting.

It is, of course, encouraging when courts reject coal mines because of the CO2 they'll produce. But when coal companies do the same, we know we're really starting to turn the tide.

According to BusinessGreen, mining giant Glencore has pledged to cap its coal production and develop Paris Accord-consistent strategies for growth that will include an increased focus on metals such as copper, cobalt, and zinc, which are prominently used in clean technologies associated with the impending low carbon transition.

Additionally, the company plans to review its membership of industry groups that have stood in the way of progress—a move reminiscent of when oil companies started quitting the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—and to begin disclosing how its core investments and strategies are contributing to, or working against, efforts to limit climate change.

Here's more from the company statement:

"Glencore recognises the importance of disclosing to investors how the company ensures that material capital expenditure and investments are aligned with the Paris Goals. This includes each material investment in the exploration, acquisition or development of fossil fuel (including thermal and coking coal) production, resources and reserves, as well as in resources, reserves and technologies associated with the transition to a low carbon economy. Starting in 2020, we intend to report publicly on the extent to which, in the Board's opinion, this was achieved in the prior year and the methodology and core assumptions for this assessment."

No doubt there will be those who decry Glencore's commitment as nowhere near enough – and they'll be right. But we can't simply rely on the Ikeas of this world to move low carbon business forward. As the momentum shifts from fossil fuels and the extractive economy to clean tech, renewables and lower carbon business models, we're going to find weird alliances and old players repositioning themselves for a new reality.

We should welcome these realignments. And then we should push for a whole lot more. Speaking of pushing, according to The Guardian, the move appears to be in response to shareholder pressure from major investors like the Church of England. Maybe their strategy of engagement as well as divestment is actually paying off.