Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto has announced its exit from the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) after receiving a shareholder proposal on climate-related lobbying from the Australasian Center for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR).

In an April 14 statement, ACCR pointed out that while Rio Tinto’s exit from the QRC, which advocates for the development of new and expanded coal mines, may have been triggered by its shareholder proposal, “the company was under increasing pressure from its shareholders to rein in obstructive lobbying by its industry associations.”

ACCR’s proposal urged Rio Tinto to suspend its membership to all pro-mining industry associations, including the QRC.

ACCR’s Director of Climate & Environment, Dan Gocher, said that Rio Tinto’s board had endorsed a similar shareholder proposal in 2021 and, after continued engagement with the company, the board has finally “recognized that continued advocacy for the expansion of Queensland’s coal and gas industry is not consistent with the Paris Agreement.”

Gocher criticized QRC for exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to “encourage the Queensland government to accelerate new coal projects and subsidize new gas infrastructure.”

“Those members of the QRC that claim to be supportive of the Paris Agreement – including Anglo American, BHP, Origin Energy, and South32 – must follow Rio Tinto and exit the QRC,” he said.

In 2021, 48 shareholder proposals dealing with lobbying and political contributions went to a vote at annual meetings in the U.S., receiving an average of 40.3% support according to Insightia Voting data.