Energy and climate change

Energy and climate change

There is overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity and poses a significant threat to our health, economy and environment. We support the intent of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Mining is an inherently energy-intensive business. We emit greenhouse gases (GHG) through the energy used to power our operations and in the processes used to produce metals and minerals. We also contribute to GHG emissions indirectly through the transportation and use of our products, such as the use of coal in steel production.

We have a responsibility to produce essential minerals and metals as efficiently as possible to reduce our environmental impact and lower our operating costs. But we also acknowledge we will need to adapt to climate change risks in a world that is 2°C warmer. So we will be improving our understanding, management and disclosure of the resilience of our portfolio in the years ahead.

 

Air quality control, Cape Lambert Air quality control, Cape Lambert

24%

Group GHG emissions intensity reduction target between 2008-2020

Towards a low-carbon future

We are aiming for a substantial decarbonisation of our business by 2050. We are taking steps to manage risk, build resilience to climate change and develop our role in a low-carbon future. (Find out more in our Climate Change Position Statement.)

We've made a commitment to reduce our Group GHG emissions intensity by 24 per cent between 2008 and 2020, which we are well on track to meet.

Applying innovation

From the electricity that we use to the impact of our operations and products, we are looking at ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Innovation has an important role to play in helping us to use less energy in our operations and cut the carbon intensity of our energy mix.

Producing products that have lower emissions when used is the most important way we can contribute to a low-carbon future. Copper is critical to an increasingly electrified world. Increasingly, aluminium is used in car manufacture to produce lighter vehicles that consume less fuel and produce fewer emissions. Our borates are used in insulation fibreglass that helps conserve energy in buildings.

Making progress

Reducing our energy footprint is a challenge, but one we are determined to meet. We are making progress, cutting our GHG emissions intensity by 27 per cent between 2008 and 2017.

As a whole, around three quarters of Rio Tinto’s total energy comes from hydro, nuclear and renewable power sources.

Aluminium smelting is an energy-intensive process, so using renewable energy sources has a significant impact on our carbon consumption. Around 80 per cent of the Aluminium group’s power needs comes from carbon-free sources, with 57 per cent generated by our own hydropower assets.

We have pioneered the development of efficient aluminium smelting technology that reduces electricity consumption and lowers emissions. Our proprietary AP TechnologyTM is recognised as a world-leader in clean aluminium production.

While these numbers are encouraging, there is more for us to do around managing energy use at our sites, which is our major source of carbon dioxide emissions.

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