The announcement by BHP, the world’s second-largest mining company, that it will shift its oil and gas assets into a joint venture with Australian outfit Woodside is a clear indication the “Big Australian” is getting out of the carbon-based fuel industry.
BHP has also been offloading thermal coal assets. It sold its share in the Cerrejon coal mine in Columbia to Glencore (the world’s biggest mining company) in June. It has written down the value of its Mt Arthur mine in Australia’s Hunter Valley while it looks for a buyer.
But if the oil wells, gas fields and coal mines are still there, what difference do these asset sales make? To answer this question, it is necessary to understand the broader logic of divestment, as championed by the divestment movement.
The divestment agenda
The immediate aim of the divestment movement is to end new investment in oil, gas and coal, with the ultimate aim of decarbonising the economy.