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We recognise that climate change is occurring and that it is largely caused by human activities. It poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems, and is already affecting them. Climate change will create risks and opportunities for our businesses that will affect shareholder value. It will lead to significant changes in the physical environments in which we operate. Over the longer term, climate change threatens the stability of natural, social, economic and political systems, which risks significantly damaging the prospects for our businesses.
The scale of the necessary emissions reductions and the need for adaptation – coupled with the world’s increasing requirements for secure, affordable energy – create large challenges which require worldwide attention. Our climate change programme focuses on reducing the energy intensity of our operations as well as the carbon intensity of our energy. This includes the use of renewable energy and reduction in emissions intensity from chemical processes. It also addresses emissions from other sources including landholdings.
Setting targets, and regularly reporting against them, is a priority and helps us to manage our performance. We are seeking a substantial decarbonisation of our business by 2050. Following the creation of Pacific Aluminium, the majority of the energy used in Rio Tinto Alcan's smelters is from low-carbon sources.
Reduction of our greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity index is one of seven Group key performance indicators. We are targeting a reduction in the emissions intensity of our products by six per cent by the end of 2013, and by a further four per cent by 2015, compared to 2008.
To achieve this target, we are making major investment in new plants and technology. The operating efficiency of our ongoing operations is also critical.
In 2012, our total GHG emissions were 41.0 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e), a decrease of 2.2 million tonnes from 2011, as a result of decreased production of aluminium, principally the shutdown of the Lynemouth smelter.
Between 2008 and 2012, Rio Tinto’s GHG emissions intensity had reduced 5.1 per cent, largely due to the 2009 divestment of the Ningxia aluminium smelter in China, the 2012 closure of the Lynemouth aluminium smelter and reduced intensity for the alumina commodity with the installation of the Yarwun cogeneration plant and improved performance at the other alumina refineries over the period. We remain on track to achieve our emissions intensity targets in 2013 and 2015.
Greenhouse gas emissions intensity
Sources of total greenhouse gas emissions
Please see the Performance data section for a breakdown of greenhouse gas emissions by product group and country.
Total greenhouse gas emissions
The majority of Rio Tinto’s GHG emissions are generated as a result of energy use (electricity, fuel and anodes and reductants) during mining, milling and smelting activities at our sites.
We recognise that there are also significant GHG emissions associated with the transportation, processing and use of our products. In 2012, the three most significant sources of indirect emissions associated with our products were:
- Approximately 5.4 million tonnes of CO2-e associated with third party transport of our products and raw materials.
- An estimated 141 million tonnes of CO2-e associated with customers using our coal in electricity generation and steel production.
- Approximately 374 million tonnes of CO2-e associated with customers using our iron ore to produce steel (these emissions are not in addition to the coal-use emissions above, as some customers use both our iron ore and our coal to produce steel).
Rio Tinto businesses report emissions to regulators in seven countries or regions, including under the Australian National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting (NGER) Act.
Filter and analyse our performance data.