Friday, November 2, 2007

Rio Tinto Alcan loses lustre over emissions

From the Globe and Mail:

It sure looked to be aluminum, that shiny counter from behind which Tom and Dick - the new/old team running Rio Tinto Alcan - held court last week to celebrate Canada's biggest foreign takeover yet. But upon closer inspection, and a few kicks, we can safely say it wasn't made of metal.

Yes, appearances can be deceiving, and the faux aluminum stage prop wasn't the only illusion that was shattered at this coming out. Alcan's carefully managed image as one of the good guys in the epic battle to bring business onside on climate change also took it in the chin.

Alcan chief executive officer Dick Evans and his new boss, London-based Rio Tinto CEO Tom Albanese, still look good compared with the ostriches in the oil patch. But they lost serious brownie points with their jeremiad against hard, government-imposed targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

"If you look at absolute reductions as a solution, the likely consequence is that you will drive the growth of aluminum production offshore," Mr. Evans said.

"We feel strongly that intensity-based targets are the most effective means to get [to] the ultimate end of absolute greenhouse gas emissions."

With this statement, Mr. Evans exposed Alcan's "green" image makeover for what it is: A concerted effort to shape government policy and public opinion, and, hence, minimize legislative limits on its activities....MORE