Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.28.35 AM

A few years ago, we got a 2010 snapshot analysis of the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies by size of carbon reserves – “The 200 List.” In the subsequent three years things have taken a turn for the worse. Fossil Free Indexes, a research and Index provider, published a paper today called The Carbon Underground where they provide a comprehensive update to The 200 List. In short, they found that reserves are growing and the carbon budget is shrinking, and as you may have guessed, this is happening at an alarming rate.

Here are the two big takeaways from the paper you can use as a short guide:


One of the big pieces of analysis to come out of the report is the “too-big-to-fail” issue we experience with the financial sector. The top five companies on the oil and gas side of the 200 list (Gazprom, Rosneft, PetroChina, ExxonMobil, Lukoil) contribute roughly 53% of the total carbon emissions potential while the bottom half comprise about 5%. This hyper-top-heavy consolidation of wealth is a defining characteristic of the last economic crisis. This concentration and centralization is mostly attributed to acquisitions (big companies gobbling up smaller companies), while the list as a whole is making moves to dig up and burn more carbon (oil leading the charge). Coal is a similar story, concentrated at the top, with 52% of potential CO2 emissions coming from the top 10 coal companies (1. Coal India, 2. Shenhua, 3. Adani to name a few).

The bubble is getting bigger:

The carbon potential of the world’s 200 largest public fossil fuel companies has grown 8.4% since 2010. The majority of the growth of CO2 potential on the oil and gas side of the list is found in North America – the two big culprits being the fracking boom and Canadian oil sands. For example, ExxonMobil increased holdings in Canadian oil sand reserves five-fold between 2004 and 2012. In 2012 The International Energy Agency told us that the total proven reserves where 2,860 billion tons of CO2. Fossil Free Indexes calculates that the total carbon emissions for proven reserves today stands at 3,200 billion tons of CO2. The potential CO2 emission from the top 100 coal companies has risen 10.6% since 2010.

There are a few other stories that you can pull from the information within the new 200 list paper, The Carbon Underground. For example, the top two companies on the oil/gas side are Russian state-controlled and the US just extended sanctions to the CEO of one of those companies (Rosneft). Or this daunting statement found on page 4, “Even with [a 10%] aggressive emissions reduction, the budget is exhausted in 22 years.”

Fossil Free Indexes plans to update The 200 List quarterly and publish the updated list annually. A link to the list will be found on our website, and FFI will have a list of stock symbols and other reserves information available for a subscription (coming soon). I hope you can put this info to good use.

For campaigners and movement shakers, Janina Klimas,’s National Divestment Organizer, set up this living and growing google doc that will highlight articles about the companies on new 200 list:

You can download the official list and paper from Fossil Free Indexes here: