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Largest 200 Fossil Fuel Companies Continue to Expand Their Reserves Despite Glut, According to Fossil Free Indexes

NEW YORK – Fossil Free Indexes (FFI) today released a report showing that oil, gas, and coal companies have expanded their reported reserves in the last year, even though 80% of existing reserves cannot be used in order to avert the most damaging effects of climate change, according to IPCC models.

FFI’s report, The Carbon Underground 2015: The World’s Top 200 Public Companies Ranked by the Carbon Content of their Fossil Fuel Reserves, finds that the potential carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the reported reserves of the top 200 public coal, oil, and gas companies have increased to 555 gigatons (Gt), from 546 Gt last year and 504 Gt in 2010.

However, The Carbon Underground 200 companies can burn only 115 Gt of reserves through the year 2050 for the world to have an 80% chance of limiting global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times, the amount likely to prevent the most dangerous impacts of climate change.

The report updates FFI’s trademark ranking, The Carbon Underground 200, which since its release last year has been the official list of the divestment movement.

FFI’s analysis uncovers some notable facts:

  • Total potential reserves-based emissions of The Carbon Underground 200 increased by more than 10%, rising by 52 Gt CO2, since year-end 2010.
  • Just 10 coal companies expanded reserves-based emissions by a combined 50 Gt CO2 since 2010, and 10 oil and gas companies increased reserves-based emissions by 11 Gt CO2 during the same period.
  • The top five ranked oil and gas companies – Gazprom, Rosneft, PetroChina, ExxonMobil and Lukoil – account for over 50% of overall oil and gas list emissions and much of the emissions growth.
  • The potential emissions from coal reserves increased by 5.6 Gt CO2 last year, 1.5x more than the amount from oil and gas reserves.

Company founder and CEO, Stuart Braman, said, “The primary finding of The Carbon Underground 2015 – that reserves-based emissions of The Carbon Underground 200 continue to grow, as the carbon budget gets smaller – shows the stakes are rising. As investors work to understand the implications of addressing the risk of holding these companies in their portfolios, we’re pleased to report that the work coming out of the index side of FFI provides some useful information. FFIUS, our fossil free US large-cap index based on the S&P 500, outperformed the S&P 500 by 1.5% in 2014. Braman went on to caution that “…while FFIUS won’t outperform the S&P 500 every year, 2014 results illustrate both the value of a carbon-aware investment strategy and the potential cost of ignoring the risk of stranded assets.”

According to Jag Alexeyev, Director of Research at Fossil Free Indexes, “institutions and individuals increasingly recognize the risks that fossil fuel reserves could be unburnable and stranded, and are taking steps to reduce their holdings of coal, oil, and gas investments. These actions coincide with a collapse in oil prices in 2014, reductions in capital expenditures on high cost energy projects, and greater stranded asset risks. The oil price declines also raise the chances of carbon taxes and cuts in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.”

FFI offers an updated version of The Carbon Underground 200 available for download on their website once a year. They also provide quarterly updates, with company identifiers, and history back to 2004 to subscribers for commercial use.

About Fossil Free Indexes

Fossil Free Indexes provides benchmarks, research, and investment solutions that support carbon-responsible investing. FFI indexes are licensed for funds, ETFs, and separate accounts, as the basis for investable products and strategies. For more information, visit

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