Who Owns the World's Coal

An InfluenceMap Report

May 2017

See media coverage: Reuters, Economic Times, The Hindu Times Business Line.

Phasing out the use of coal for power has been singled out as a vital step to meet the Paris Agreement - to date, over $5tn of assets under management (AUM) has committed to divest from coal under the banner of the global divestment movement.

This study analyses in detail the ownership chains of the world's thermal coal. It tracks the links between the coal reserves (the mines), the operating coal companies and the shareholders who own these companies. It shows roughly $185bn in shareholder value associated with 117 listed thermal coal producers/owners - including widely held shares such as BHP Billiton, Glencore and Berkshire Hathaway.

The report breaks down:

  • Trends in ownership: as policy in the US and Japan shifts (against the guidance of Paris) back towards coal, we look at the geographic spread of ownership.

  • Divestment and Pension Funds: over 500 investors have made pledges to divest from coal over the last decade. We look at some of the largest pension funds who have made the most specific coal divest statements and assess their progress, finding good compliance with the coal specific divestment statements from investors aggregating $1.4tn AUM.

  • Coal-heavy investors: the remaining shareholders of thermal coal fit in three categories. (1) strategic investors from Asia, (gvmts, power companies) (2) BlackRock and Vanguard (who own assets through the sheer size of their global holdings) and (3) mid size asset managers and funds who may see opportunity in US resurgence and Asian growth.

A full account of the datasets and our methodology may be found on the InfluenceMap Finance Project homepage. This analysis of coal ownership is part of a wider mapping of links between finance and the fossil fuel economy, currently underway at InfluenceMap.

About InfluenceMap

InfluenceMap is a non-profit think tank providing objective and evidence-based analysis of how companies and financial institutions are impacting the climate and biodiversity crises. Our company profiles and other content are used extensively by a range of actors including investors, the media, NGOs, policymakers, and the corporate sector. InfluenceMap does not advocate or take positions on government policy. All our assessments are made against accepted benchmarks, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Our content is open source and free to view and use (https://influencemap.org/terms).


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It is clear from the data that, for a variety of reasons, thermal coal has become largely uninvestable over the last five years by mainstream asset managers and owners alike. We look forward to tracking this trend and indeed seeing the impact the divestment movement has on the much larger oil and gas fossil fuel asset classes.

Dylan Tanner, Executive Director, InfluenceMap

Pensions only make sense on a planet with a future; there's no place where the argument for divesting is clearer.

Bill McKibben, co-founder and Senior Advisor, 350.org