Rio Tinto hosts Clean Growth Forum, promotes partnership as essential to a low-carbon future

08 December 2020

Rio Tinto today hosted the “Clean Growth Forum – Toward a low-carbon future” as an official event under the UK in JAPAN campaign.

Representatives from the British and Japanese public and private sectors shared insights and concrete initiatives on tackling climate change from diverse angles including technology, policy and materials – and how partnerships are critical to truly tackle climate change.

The Forum was originally scheduled to be held in February of this year as one of the official events of the British Embassy’s UK in JAPAN campaign, of which Rio Tinto is an official partner. UK in JAPAN aims to further strengthen the bilateral relationship and deepen the partnership between the two countries as forward-looking global leaders. The Forum was postponed in light of the COVID-19 response, and rescheduled as an all-online event given the importance and timeliness of the subject-matter. The Clean Growth Forum is officially supported by both the British Embassy Tokyo and the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.

British Ambassador to Japan H.E. Paul Madden CMG gave opening remarks, and UK COP26 Asia Pacific Regional Ambassador Ken O’Flaherty contributed a video message to the event. The UK was the first major economy to legislate for net zero emissions.

Mr. Yasushi Ogasawara, Director of the Climate Change Policy Division, Global Environment Bureau, Japanese Ministry of the Environment, introduced the Ministry’s initiatives in collaboration with private sector companies related to the Japanese government’s recently-announced goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

The keynote speech was delivered from London by Xavier Chalbot, Rio Tinto’s Head of Strategy, who said, “Rio Tinto recognises the unprecedented challenge that climate change represents but we believe it also presents opportunities. As producers of the materials essential to human progress, we are well positioned for the transition to a low carbon future.

“Our ambition is clear: to get to net zero by 2050. We have committed by 2030 to further reduce our absolute emissions by 15% and emissions intensity by 30%, on the back of a 46% reduction in emissions since 2008. This is a massive undertaking. And we will need new technologies and partnerships to deliver it.

“Rio Tinto does not have all the answers to the complex questions of moving to a low-carbon economy, but we are ready to play our role in tackling the climate change challenge. Working in partnership with industry, technology developers, investors, civil society and governments, we are confident we can be part of the solution to climate change. Japan is a longstanding partner for Rio Tinto on many fronts, and we are exploring climate focused partnerships with Japanese stakeholders as well.”

Panelists at the Forum included representatives of the British Embassy Tokyo; UK in JAPAN principal partners Jaguar Land Rover and Standard Chartered Bank; Hitachi Limited; and Rio Tinto Japan, who spoke on such topics as government-to-government collaboration to tackle climate change; the roles of investment and innovation to achieve clean growth; and the importance of partnerships to reduce emissions across value chains.

Rio Tinto Japan Ltd. Representative Director and President Wataru (Bill) Horie closed the Forum, thanking the participants and attendees, and expressing Rio Tinto’s intention to continue to be a good partner for Japan.

Notes for editors

Rio Tinto produces materials that are essential to human progress. We have publicly acknowledged the reality of climate change for over two decades and in 2018, we completed the divestment of our coal assets, becoming the only major mining company not producing fossil fuels. Today, 76 per cent of the electricity used across our business is from low-carbon renewable energy.

In 2020, we set a new ambition to be carbon neutral by 2050. Having reduced our emissions footprint by over 30 per cent in the decade to 2020, we set new targets for the next decade to reduce absolute emissions by 15 per cent and emission intensity by 30 per cent to 2030.

Partnering to reduce the emissions footprint across our value chain is central to our strategy and in 2018, we announced ELYSIS, a pioneering new technology partnership with Alcoa, with support from Apple and the governments of Canada and Quebec, to further develop carbon-free aluminium smelting technology – an industry first.

Rio Tinto is also a founding member of the Aluminium Stewardship Initiative (ASI), helping pioneer responsible production standards for the aluminium industry alongside customers and a broad range of stakeholders. Rio Tinto became the first producer to offer ASI aluminium in 2018, through a ‘chain of custody’ spanning the Gove bauxite mine in Australia to its alumina refinery, aluminium smelters and casthouses in Quebec, Canada, adding its operations in British Columbia in 2019.

In 2019, we agreed a partnership with China’s largest steel producer, China Baowu Steel Group, and Tsinghua University, one of China’s most prestigious and influential universities, to develop and implement new methods to reduce carbon emissions and improve environmental performance across the steel value chain.