Press release: 8 September 2022

Environmental groups allege Glencore’s net zero climate claims are misleading in new complaint

A coalition of environmental and community groups have alleged that the net zero claims of multinational coal company Glencore are misleading to investors and the public, in a new legal complaint filed in Australia.

ClientEarth is supporting the multi-group complaint which argues that Glencore’s net zero statements misuse an emissions pathway that is not applicable to its coal-dominated business and therefore violates Australian consumer law. 

Lawyers from ClientEarth are supporting and assisting the case to be brought by the Environmental Defenders Office, on behalf of The Plains Clan of the Wonnarua People (PCWP) and Lock the Gate Alliance. The complaint – lodged with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) – alleges Glencore’s claims about its climate impact and its behaviour towards Traditional Owners under the Corporations Act 2001 are misleading or deceptive. 

ClientEarth is also calling on the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority to act – given the coal giant’s parent company, Glencore plc, is listed on the London Stock Exchange – and urging the FCA to coordinate with the Australian securities regulator, ASIC, in a robust response.

Despite Glencore publicly claiming to have Paris-aligned decarbonisation plans in place, the legal review of Glencore’s activities reveals that the company is using a decarbonisation pathway that fails to represent its coal business, which is the largest driver of its emissions. 

By disclosing net zero targets that fail to align with pathways to net zero emissions by 2050, Glencore’s climate change commitments give a false impression about how the business is working to achieve a sustainable transition, the complaint alleges.

In fact, the company appears to be further fueling the climate crisis through its ongoing attempts to expand its coal presence in Australia. [1]  

ClientEarth climate lawyer Maria Petzsch said: “We are helping bring this case to stand up to Glencore’s misuse of net zero science, which downplays its climate-damaging plans in Australia.

“To us the coal giant's claims to shareholders and the public appear as an elaborate case of smoke and mirrors. Glencore persists with its coal production in an increasingly hothouse world while promising alignment with net zero by 2050 – all by relying on a particular emissions scenario.

“The issue is that this scenario isn’t actually applicable to a coal business like Glencore, which needs to reduce coal production rapidly if its business is to align with a liveable climate.”

The EDO has separately lodged complaints on behalf of Lock the Gate Alliance and PCWP with the Advertising Standards Board in Australia, raising concerns about apparent potential breaches of the Environmental Claims Code and Australian Association of National Advertisers Code of Ethics.

Internationally, the investor Bluebell Capital Partners has publicly criticised Glencore for its continued coal business, saying it is not a company to be invested in by shareholders who place sustainability at the heart of their investment process. [2] 

Petzsch added: “It shouldn’t fall upon shareholders and the public to spot this critical omission in Glencore’s climate claims, whether it is a mistake or sleight of hand. Either way the company needs to be upfront about why its coal-dominated business is somehow exempt from the urgent need to decarbonise.”

When asked by the press if its recent public advertising campaign in Australia about its transition was greenwashing, Glencore’s spokesperson denied this and said the company had been “very transparent about our climate change commitments and the responsible managed decline of our global coal business.” [3] 

If the Australian authorities ultimately find that Glencore has violated the Corporations Act 2001 and/or Australian consumer law as alleged, the company could face financial penalties in addition to injunctions which would prevent the commodity company from making such misleading claims in the future.


Notes to editors:

[1] “Glencore Expands Coal Mining in an Australian Methane Hotspot” Bloomberg, 13 July 2022: 

[2] “Activist investor Bluebell urges Glencore to separate its thermal coal unit” Reuters, 30 November 2021: 

[3] “Mining giant Glencore’s Australian PR blitz forgets the coal driving the climate crisis”, The Guardian 20 July 2022: 

Glencore's statements on climate change can be found here, and include the following:

“In line with the ambitions of the 1.5°C scenarios set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), we target a short-term reduction target of 15% by 2026 and a medium-term 50% reduction of our total (Scope 1, 2 and 3) emissions by 2035 on 2019 levels. Post-2035, our ambition is to achieve, with a supportive policy environment, net zero total emissions by 2050."

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.