In an effort to remove themselves of the risks associated with climate change investors in wealthy nations have been selling their ownership of coal reserves. The bulk of this ownership has been purchased by investors from the still developing nations of China and India where the governments state coal will be needed for decades to fuel growth. This transfer of assets is occurring despite China and India’s commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions which are being blamed for warming the planet.

boundary dam coal plant

Two years ago at a summit in Paris nearly 200 governments pledged to move away from the use of fossil fuels towards sources of renewable energy in an effort to curb climate change. To date more than 500 major investors have pledged to limit coal investments. This has led to the overwhelming majority of coal reserves being owned by strategic investors such as governments or power companies who have an interest in using the coal as a power source.

According to a report by the British-based research group InfluenceMap the shift in ownership from North America and Europe to Asia has taken place in recent years. The report identified thousands of shareholders from 117 listed companies which produce 3 billion tons of coal designated for thermal use and holding 150 billion tons of reserves.

A reversal of this trend is possible however, as some investors are seeing new opportunities in coal with the election of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. President Trump has been outspoken about his doubts that climate change is man-made. The President frequently speaks about a need to obtain cheap energy through the use of domestic fossil fuels.

The report disagrees however, stating that if all the coal reserves mentioned in the report were consumed they would release a huge volume of greenhouse gases. It is estimated the release of these gases would raise the planet’s average surface temperature nearly 2 degrees Fahrenheit above per-industrial times.