Skip to main content

Climate change

Our approach to climate change is integrated with our strategy and is designed to protect and unlock long-term value, build operational resilience, and enhance our competitiveness in a low-carbon world.


As a global mining and metals company, we have an important role to play in responding to the risks and opportunities of climate change: to produce commodities that are critical in the transition to a low-carbon world; and to do so in a way that seeks to minimise our impact. 

We support the objectives of the Paris Agreement and have a long-term goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all scopes (i.e. Scope 1, 2 and 3) by 2050. We also have a medium-term target(2) to halve our operational GHG emissions by 2035 from our FY21 baseline.

We assess all portfolio and major investment decisions against our medium-term target and long-term goal, which guide our decarbonisation planning and activities.

Our approach to climate change

Our approach to climate change is aligned to our purpose and integrated with our strategy, and is focused on:


Reshaping our portfolioExpandCollapse

Reshaping our portfolio toward the commodities that are critical in the transition to a low-carbon world is part of our strategy and our approach to climate change.

Our commodity mix today is very different from that of 2015 when South32 was first established.

We have exited carbon intensive and lower returning businesses, completing the divestments of South Africa Energy Coal (SAEC) and Tasmanian Electro Metallurgical Company (TEMCO), and have ceased production at the Metalloys manganese alloys smelter.

In FY22, we added copper through the acquisition of a 45 per cent interest in the Sierra Gorda copper mine in Chile and grew our share of low-carbon aluminium production by participating in the restart of the Brazil Aluminium smelter and increasing our shareholding in Mozal Aluminium.

Our Hermosa project in Arizona, United States is currently understood to be the only advanced project in the US with the potential to produce two federally designated critical minerals, zinc and manganese.

We continue to invest to discover deposits to underpin our next generation of mines with over 25 base metals exploration prospects around the world.

Decarbonising our operationsExpandCollapse

Our decarbonisation plans prioritise avoidance and mitigation over the use of carbon offsets, in accordance with our mitigation hierarchy.

Over 90 per cent of our operational GHG emissions are generated by four operations – Hillside Aluminium, Mozal Aluminium, Worsley Alumina and IMC. Our decarbonisation initiatives are primarily focused on these operations to support a significant reduction in our operational GHG emissions and deliver our medium-term target.

Our operational decarbonisation pathway to support delivery of our medium-term target and long-term goal consists of three elements: efficiency initiatives in the near term, transition to low-carbon energy in the medium-term, and technology solutions in the longer- term.

Just transition

Just transition is the fair, equitable and inclusive social transition towards a low-carbon global economy.

We understand that our decarbonisation initiatives are likely to impact some of the communities and regions where we operate and that a well-planned and just transition can create new and long-term opportunities.

We are committed to supporting a fair and equitable transition for our people, communities and other stakeholders, that is aligned with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Assessing physical climate riskExpandCollapse

Physical climate risks are driven or intensified by weather, climate variability or climate change.

They include acute risks, resulting from increased frequency or severity of extreme weather events (e.g., drought or flood events) and chronic risks, resulting from longer-term changes in climate patterns (e.g., sustained higher temperatures, sea level rise).

Physical climate risks have the potential to affect the integrity and performance of our equipment and infrastructure, compromise productivity, and disrupt business continuity (including our supply chain activities). There may also be broader environmental and socio-economic impacts on key stakeholders, including local communities.

We completed our first physical climate risk assessments for our operations in FY18 and FY19, and updated these in FY22. In FY23, we commenced incorporating the outcomes of our FY22 physical impacts of climate change assessment into our material risk reviews, where physical impacts of climate change were identified as a potential influence on the nature, likelihood or impact of the risk event.

Our internal material risk management standard requires that all material risks be reviewed at least every two years. While we have focused our FY23 activities on our most material risks, we continue to investigate additional opportunities to improve how we address physical climate risk in our broader risk management program, for example in the development of guidance documents to support risk practitioners across the business to consider physical climate risk.

Working with othersExpandCollapse

In FY23, we set a new goal of net zero Scope 3 GHG emissions by 2050 that includes all categories of Scope 3 GHG emissions relevant to our business.

This goal recognises that we have a critical role to play in contributing to the decarbonisation of the value chain and reflects our commitment to collaborating with our suppliers, customers, joint venture partners, industry peers and other value chain partners to make a meaningful contribution to the actions and innovations required to address Scope 3 GHG emissions.

Technology and innovation are crucial to the low-carbon transition and we actively collaborate with other companies, industry groups and research organisations to complement our innovation and technology programs.

Forging strong relationships with value chain partners is an important part of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across the value chain. We work together to reduce GHG emissions by sharing insights, enhancing monitoring and reporting, developing scalable innovation and linking performance to targets.

We continue to identify potential partners for collaboration on Scope 3 GHG emissions reduction, particularly those partners who provide goods and services to South32.

Climate Change Action Plan

Climate Change Action Plan 2022

Our Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) was published in our 2022 Sustainable Development Report (SDR)

Please read page 69 of the 2022 SDR for important information on the preparation of our CCAP and forward-looking statements, scenario analysis and information prepared by third parties that are covered in our CCAP. The CCAP should be read in conjunction with South32’s SDR, Annual Report and Sustainability Databook, and other periodic and continuous disclosure announcements lodged with the ASX. Those documents are available here, and our ASX announcements can be found here.


Our Climate Change Action Plan (CCAP) describes the actions we are taking to address the risks and opportunities that climate change presents for our business.

Our CCAP was approved by our Board and put to a non-binding advisory vote at our 2022 Annual General Meeting (AGM) receiving strong shareholder support with 89.6 per cent of the votes cast in favour of the resolution. Following the AGM, management engaged with dissenting material shareholders to discuss their feedback which primarily related to the absence of a short-term GHG emissions reduction target and that our 2035 medium-term target applies to operational GHG emissions (Scopes 1 and 2) only and does not include value chain emissions (Scope 3).

Our Board and management regularly engage with investors and proxy advisers for feedback, with climate change a key topic of discussion. Our progress addressing climate change is also integrated into our routine shareholder engagement activities. Progress updates will be provided annually in our Sustainable Development Report.

Other key documents

Milestones on our road to net zero

Within a year of South32's establishment, we committed to supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement. We are preparing our business for the global energy transition, taking action to meet our climate change commitments and working to enable a just transition for our people, our business and our communities.


Set our long-term goal¹ to achieve net zero operational GHG emissions (Scope 1 and 2) by 2050


Achieved our first GHG emissions reduction target² of keeping our Scope 1 GHG emissions below our FY15 baseline


Meet our target of halving our operational GHG emissions, compared to our FY21 baseline


Achieve our goal of net zero GHG emissions (Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3)

Climate change governance

Climate change governance

Climate change is a material strategic and governance issue that is overseen by our Board, with the support of its standing Committees.

Our Board is responsible for our strategy and approves South32’s Sustainability Policy, which includes our commitment to addressing climate change. The Board is also responsible for South32’s overall climate change approach, our CCAP and policy positions therein.

Our CEO, together with our Lead Team, is accountable for execution of our approach to climate change in accordance with their delegated authority and report to our Board and its Committees on climate-related issues.

Climate change risk management

Climate change, and the social and economic responses to it, pose risks to our portfolio, physical assets and people, as well as the infrastructure, markets, communities and environment on which we rely.

Climate-related risks are managed at both the company-wide strategic level and the local level for operations, functions and projects. We regularly assess these dynamic risks through a framework that considers policy, market and physical factors. We complement our risk management approach with scenario analysis to stress test climate-related risks.

Since our first climate-related scenario analysis in 2017, we have continued to revise and build upon our assessment of resilience to physical impacts as well as transition impacts, using an approach aligned with the TCFD recommendations.


Climate stories

At South32, we understand the need for bold action on climate change

and we are responding by addressing our biggest challenges. Our Climate Change Action Plan describes how we are working in collaboration with our stakeholders to prepare our business for the global energy transition, meet our climate change commitments and achieve a just transition for our people, our business and our communities." - Karen Wood, Chair
Karen Wood, Chair of South32


1 ‘Goal’ is defined as an ambition to seek an outcome for which there is no current pathway(s), but for which efforts will be pursued towards addressing that challenge, subject to certain assumptions or conditions.

2 ‘Target’ is defined as an intended outcome in relation to which we have identified one or more pathways for delivery of that outcome, subject to certain assumptions or conditions. 

This page contains forward looking statements including statements in relation to climate change and other environmental and energy transition scenarios. These forward-looking statements reflect South32’s expectations at the date of the Climate Change Action Plan included in the Sustainable Development Report (including with respect to its strategies and plans regarding climate change) and they are not guarantees or predictions of future performance or outcomes or statements of fact. They involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual outcomes and developments to differ materially from those expressed in such statements. South32 makes no representation, assurance or guarantees as to the accuracy, completeness or likelihood of fulfilment of any forward-looking statement, any outcomes expressed or implied in any forward-looking statement or any assumptions on which a forward-looking statement is based.