Who owns the world’s coal?

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

A new 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 US$185 billion 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: divestment and pension funds, and coal-heavy investors. Over 500 investors have made pledges to divest from coal over the last decade. The study also looks at some of the largest pension funds that have made the most specific coal divestment statements and assesses their progress, finding good compliance with the coal-specific divestment statements from investors aggregating US$1.4 trillion AUM.

The remaining shareholders of thermal coal fit in three categories: strategic investors from Asia; BlackRock and Vanguard, who own assets through the sheer size of their global holdings, and mid-size asset managers and funds that may see opportunity in US resurgence and Asian growth.



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