The Carbon Underground 2015

The World’s Top 200 Public Companies

Ranked by the Carbon Content of their Fossil Fuel Reserves

The Carbon Underground 200 identifies the top 100 public coal companies globally and the top 100 public oil and gas companies globally, ranked by the potential carbon emissions content of their reported reserves. The reserves of these companies total 555 gigatons (Gt) of potential CO2 emissions, almost five times more than can be burned for the world to have an 80% chance of limiting global temperature rise to 2°C (3.6° F).


The CO2 emissions potential of the coal, oil and gas reserves of the world’s 200 largest public fossil fuel companies continues to grow (10.3% since year-end 2010), despite the dwindling carbon emissions budget implied by a broad government policy agreement to avoid excessive global warming.

The Carbon Underground identifies the 100 largest public coal companies, and the 100 largest public oil and gas companies, based on estimates of the potential CO2 emissions of their reported reserves as of October 31, 2014. The trends evidenced in this report demonstrate that reserve growth continues to be the norm for both the oil and gas and the coal sectors as a whole. The 555 Gt CO2 emissions potential estimated to be embedded in the reported reserves of the 200 firms – The Carbon Underground 200 – represents over 400% of the firms’ carbon budget allocation, based on their share of carbon emissions potential of global reserves. This report estimates an updated carbon budget based on the only IPCC climate scenario with a future less than 2° C above pre-industrial levels with >66% probability. These estimates broadly confirm growing research on the exposure of public fossil fuel companies, especially those in the coal sector, to potential constraints and revaluation based on stranded assets.

This report identifies changes in the top 200 fossil fuel companies and emissions potential over time, with a specific focus on developments since 2010. The research highlights the concentration of reserves, and hence emissions potential, in a small number of large firms. Still, the dynamism of the coal and oil & gas sectors globally is apparent in the changes among the 200 over time, with 37 companies newly entering the list since 2010.

Statistical Highlights

The Carbon Underground 200 – Potential CO2 Emissions from the Reserves

2010 (Gt) 2014 (Gt) 2015 (Gt) 1 Yr
Gt Chng
1 Yr
% Chng
Gt Chng
% Chng
Coal 358 396 402 5.6 1.4% 43.6 12.2%
Oil & Gas 146 150 154 3.8 2.5% 8.1 5.6%
Total 504 546 555 9.4 1.7% 51,7 10.3%


The potential CO2 emissions embedded in the reported reserves of The Carbon Underground 200 exceed the allocated carbon budget by almost 500%.

  • 29 companies have entered the list since year-end 2010.
  • 26 companies already on the list have moved up in the rankings by 10 or more spots.
  • 11 companies already on the list have moved down 10 or more spots.
  • 10 coal companies expanded reserves-based emissions by a combined 50 Gt CO2 since 2010.
  • 10 oil and gas companies together increased reserves-based emissions by 11 Gt CO2 since 2010.

Methodology Highlights

Listed Companies

Companies on the list are investable as of January 31, 2015. Subsidiaries with their own exchange listings that report reserves separately from their parent are eligible for inclusion. Companies that publicly trade only a portion of their overall shares are also eligible for inclusion.


The rankings are based on calculated carbon emissions data using reserves reported as of October 31, 2014. The ranking are adjusted for company mergers and acquisitions through January 31, 2015.


Rankings are constructed using a reserves-based methodology with the underlying core data based on “reported” reserves. Coal reserves are the sum of proven and probable reserves based on the last reported reserves amount by mine. Reserves are allocated to listed companies based on percentage ownership of individual mines. Oil and gas companies are ranked on proven reserves (1P) net of royalty payments.

Emissions Calculations

The Carbon Underground 200 relies on the IPCC Revised 1996 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories as a methodological framework. The calculation of CO2 emission potential requires several conversions to the raw reserves figures.

For detailed methodology, download The Carbon Underground full report.


The Carbon Underground 200 – 2015



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