Institutional investors worldwide continue to finance the coal industry with holdings totalling over $1.2trn, according to the Global Coal Exit List (GCEL) published today by a group of NGOs including Urgewald, Reclaim Finance, and Japan.

Blackrock tops the ranking among asset managers with the highest amount of bonds and shares holdings in coal companies, according to the report at $108.78bn, split into $9.84bn for bonds and $98.94bn for shares, followed by Vanguard with $101.11bn.

The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) in Japan has $28.04bn invested in holdings in the coal industry, while the Government Pension Fund Global in Norway holds $14.17bn, Allianz $9.41bn and Legal & General $7.35bn, the list showed.

Among European pension funds the Dutch civil service scheme ABP invests $5.37bn in coal holdings, the scheme for healthcare workers PFZW invests $184m, while the pension fund for the metals sector and the technological industry PME invests $208m. Sweden’s AP7 and AP4 invest $177m and $215m, respectively, according to the research.

In total, the list shows 4,970 institutions holding a total of $228.36bn in bonds and $994.07bn in equities within the coal industry, but the “top two dozen investors” account for 46% of the total sum of $1.2trn, the NGOs said.

“It’s absolutely frightening to see that pension funds, asset managers, mutual funds and other institutional investors are still betting on coal companies in the midst of an existential climate crisis,” said Yann Louvel, policy analyst at Reclaim Finance.

GCEL country chart

Source: Urgewald

US investors account for almost 56% of investments in the global coal industry

He added: “No one should be fooled by BlackRock’s and Vanguard’s membership in the Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative. These two institutions have more responsibility for accelerating climate change than any other institutional investor worldwide.”

Companies included in the GCEL represent 90% of the thermal and coal production and coal-fired capacity globally.

The firms included in the list generate a share of revenues from coal and a share of power production from coal of 20% or more, produce annual thermal coal of 10 Mt per year or 5GW of coal-fired generation capacity and develop new coal mines, new coal-fired power plants and coal-related infrastructure.

The research – conducted by not-for-profit Profundo – sourced mainly the financial databases Bloomberg and Refinitiv, data from IJGlobal, and looked at data on investments in bonds and shares of pension funds.

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