The amount of carbon kept in coal, oil and gas reserves owned by the most important fossil fuel companies is close to the global safe emissions limit.
According to a list of the top 100 traded coal companies and the top 100 oil and gas companies produced by Fossil Free Indexes (FFI), a US firm, in the last five years there has been a 10% rise in carbon reserves owned by the world’s biggest fossil fuel private companies, which now have 555 gigatonnes of CO2 at their disposal, and are carrying on further investments to search for and develop new reserves. Gazprom tops the oil and gas list, while Coal India heads the coal list; in the top 10 there are some of the most important Western fossil fuel companies, such as ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, BHP Billiton and Anglo American.
The 555 gigatonnes figure alone is very close to the global safe emissions limit that is the total amount of emissions the world can afford without bringing global warming beyond the danger limit of 2C. It should also be kept in mind that far more fossil fuels – about 2650 gigatonnes – are held by public companies, which means that overall the existing reserves contain four to five times the amount of fossil fuels that can be safely burned.
Both the World Bank and the Bank of England have warned that international measures against climate change could deprive many fossil fuels assets of their value, possibly losing investors trillions of dollars. This is why, according to James Leaton at the Carbon Tracker Initiative, it is critical for investors to determine where their capital is spent, otherwise they will devote money on the develop of fossil fuel reserves that can’t be burnt.
The UN is carrying on a fast-growing divestment campaign to convince investors to dump their fossil fuel holdings, and recent researches prove that by doing so investors wouldn’t lose money; in fact, an analysis by MSCI shows that by selling off their coal, oil and gas shares over the past five years, investors have earned 1.2% a year more than by keeping them.
The gLAWcal Team
Monday, 20 April 2015