• Atmospheric CO2 /Parts per Million /Annual Averages /Data Source: noaa.gov

  • 1980338.91ppm

  • 1981340.11ppm

  • 1982340.86ppm

  • 1983342.53ppm

  • 1984344.07ppm

  • 1985345.54ppm

  • 1986346.97ppm

  • 1987348.68ppm

  • 1988351.16ppm

  • 1989352.78ppm

  • 1990354.05ppm

  • 1991355.39ppm

  • 1992356.1ppm

  • 1993356.83ppm

  • 1994358.33ppm

  • 1995360.18ppm

  • 1996361.93ppm

  • 1997363.04ppm

  • 1998365.7ppm

  • 1999367.8ppm

  • 2000368.97ppm

  • 2001370.57ppm

  • 2002372.59ppm

  • 2003375.14ppm

  • 2004376.96ppm

  • 2005378.97ppm

  • 2006381.13ppm

  • 2007382.9ppm

  • 2008385.01ppm

  • 2009386.5ppm

  • 2010388.76ppm

  • 2011390.63ppm

  • 2012392.65ppm

  • 2013395.39ppm

  • 2014397.34ppm

  • 2015399.65ppm

  • 2016403.09ppm

  • 2017405.22ppm

  • 2018407.62ppm

  • 2019410.07ppm

  • 2020412.44ppm

  • 2021414.72ppm

  • 2022418.56ppm

  • 2023421.08ppm

News & Views

Investors continue to back fossil fuels with $4.3trn still invested

New research by environmental organisation Urgewald reveals that investors are still pumping $4trn of assets into companies that are developing new fossil fuel assets

Institutional investors hold $4.3trn in bonds and shares of fossil fuel companies, with BlackRock, State Street and the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) having some of the biggest holdings, new research has found.

The data was revealed in the 2024 edition of Investing in Climate Chaos, published by Urgewald and 17 other non-governmental organisation (NGO) partners, which shows the fossil fuel holdings of over 7,500 institutional investors globally.

The NGO’s research covers institutional investors’ holdings in companies featured on Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List (GCEL) and Global Oil and Gas Exit List (GOGEL). Both databases hold information on 2,928 companies operating in the fossil fuel sector.

According to the research, of the $4.3trn found to be committed to the fossil fuel industry, $1.2trn is invested in bonds and shares of companies on the GCEL, $3.8trn is invested in companies on the GOGEL, and $0.7trn is invested in companies on both databases.

In addition, almost $4trn of the identified institutional investments are in companies actively developing new fossil fuel assets.

Overall, Urgewald found that 7,245 institutional investors are “locking us into a high-carbon future” through investments in an expanding oil and gas industry.

“If institutional investors continue backing companies that are still expanding their coal, oil and gas operations, it will be impossible to phase out fossil fuels in time. Investors need to draw a red line on fossil fuel expansion, and they need to do it now,” said Katrin Ganswindt, head of financial research at Urgewald.

The research comes as the London Stock Exchange Group identified that $3.2trn in outstanding debt of high-carbon companies is coming up for refinancing in coming years.

US dominance in fossil fuels

The research identified that Vanguard, BlackRock, State Street and Capital Group are the world’s largest institutional investors in fossil fuels, collectively managing fossil fuel investments of $1.1trn.

Out of the four US managers, which Urgewald names the “filthy four”, Vanguard holds the largest holdings in coal, oil and gas of $413bn, with BlackRock closely following at $400bn.

Overall, the research found that investors in the US have the most holdings in the fossil fuel industry at $2.8trn, with Canada, Japan and the UK following suit.

Urgewald highlighted that oil and gas companies account for 89% or $2.5trn of US institutional investors’ holdings in fossil fuels, with US commitments to supermajor ExxonMobil adding up to $288bn.

“This mirrors the complete lack of action by US regulators to effectively monitor and address the climate and transition risks of large institutional investors. This inaction lays the ground for the next economic crisis and puts the world on a fast track towards climate chaos,” said Alec Connon, director at Stop the Money Pipeline.

Canadian institutional investors hold 6% ($254bn) of global institutional investments in oil, gas and coal, whilst those in Japan have $168bn, the research revealed.

Pension funds take up

According to Urgewald, Japan’s biggest institutional fossil fuel investor is its Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), which currently holds $58bn in bonds and shares of non-renewable companies.

Yuki Tanabe from Japanese NGO JACSES said: “Japan’s institutional investors are lagging far behind many of their international counterparts such as ABP in the Netherlands, the New York State Pension Fund or the asset manager Ostrum in France.

“Japanese investment managers need to realize that there are no secure pensions and investments in a world with a destabilized climate.”

The research also identified the Norwegian GPFG as Europe’s largest fossil fuel investor, with investments of over $70bn in companies listed on GCEL and GOGEL.

It highlighted that GPFG is the 16th largest coal investor worldwide and the 7th largest institutional investor in the oil and gas industry, with its single largest fossil investment of over $6bn in the oil major Shell.

European institutional investors collectively hold $554bn in stocks and bonds of fossil fuel companies and account for almost 13% of total institutional investments in fossil fuels, the research added.

Net Zero Investor has contacted the investors mentioned in this article for their response to the research.

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