Coal pit mine in Columbia

Methodology

Who ends up on the GCEL?

A company with coal-related business activities is put on the GCEL if it meets at least one of several clearly defined criteria. These criteria were designed to ensure the inclusion of all companies, for whom coal constitutes an essential part of their overall business model, which are an integral part of the global coal industry or which are still expanding their coal-related business. We use three types of criteria for the GCEL: relative criteria, absolute criteria and expansion criteria. Since we consider a transparent methodology an absolute necessity, a detailed explanation of each criteria can be found below.

Divestment Criteria

Relative criteria

CSR >30%
Companies are listed on the GCEL, if their (thermal) coal share of revenue (CSR) exceeds a threshold of 30%. The CSR measures the revenue share of a company’s coal-related business with regard to its total revenue. In contrast to many other data providers, we include all components of the thermal coal value chain in this calculation. Next to coal mining and coal power, this includes the following business activities: exploration & drilling, mining services, coal processing, coal trading, transport & logistics, equipment manufacturing, O&M services, EPC services, transmission & distribution of coal-fired electricity, Coal to Liquids (CtL) and Coal to Gas (CtG). It does not include revenues from coke, aluminum, steel or cement production.

We calculate the CSR for all companies on the GCEL for which the required financial information is available. Where this is not the case, we provide a well-founded estimate based on data we gather from companies’ websites and publications or from third parties such as government agencies, stock markets and reliable news outlets. Upon request, we provide the details on which our estimates are founded. Estimates are easily recognizable as they are preceded by either > or <. If data conditions are especially poor, a CSR estimate cannot be provided.

If the necessary data is available, we provide a company’s CSR (thermal), which only takes thermal coal-related business activities into account. In this case, the respective percentage is marked in red in the download table.

CSPP >30%
Companies are listed on the GCEL if their coal share of power production (CSPP) exceeds the 30% threshold. Urgewald provides two types of CSPPs for utilities: a generation-based CSPP and a capacity-based CSPP. Wherever the relevant data is available, we use the generation-based CSPP as it depicts the coal share of the real electricity output of a utility. The generation-based CSPP provides more explanatory power than a capacity-based CSPP since the latter only reflects the potential performance of a company’s power plants. We only provide the capacity-based CSPP if utilities do not report their generation numbers. The calculation method for both CSPPs is explained hereafter:

CSPP (generation-based) 
In case the CSPP (generation-based) is not directly provided by the utility, it is calculated by dividing a company's coal-fired power generation (in GWh) by its total power generation (in GWh). This yields the CSPP (generation-based).

CSPP (capacity-based)
In case the CSPP (capacity-based) is not directly provided by the utility, it is calculated by dividing a company's coal-fired generation capacity (in MW) by its total generation capacity (in MW). This yields the CSPP (capacity-based).

Whenever the capacity-based CSPP is displayed, the respective percentage is marked in red in the download table.

Absolute criteria

We use two absolute criteria to ensure that the GCEL captures all of the world’s largest coal miners and coal power producers. Even if their respective CSR and CSPP values are beneath the 30% threshold, these companies are key players in the thermal coal value chain due to the absolute size of their coal operations.

>20 Mt
A company is listed on the GCEL if its annual thermal coal production exceeds 20 million metric tons. If a company does not differentiate between thermal and metallurgical coal, its total coal production volume is noted.

>10 GW
A company is listed on the GCEL if its coal-fired (nameplate) capacity exceeds 10 gigawatts. We only display net capacities if nameplate information is not available.

Expansion criteria
We provide company-based data on planned coal-fired power, coal mining and coal infrastructure expansion. This information is key for investors and banks that want to avoid contributing to the expansion of the global coal industry.

Mining expansion
A company is listed on the GCEL if it engages in (thermal) coal-related exploration activities, develops new coal mining projects or plans a substantial increase of its annual (thermal) coal production volume.

Power expansion
A company is listed on the GCEL if it plans a substantial increase of coal-fired generation capacity (>300 MW). We calculate the prorated expansion capacity if new coal projects have more than one owner. Companies that meet our coal expansion criteria are not necessarily utilities. Among the developers of new coal-fired power plants are, for example, also mining companies, oil companies, textile companies, aluminum producers etc.

Infrastructure expansion
A company is listed on the GCEL if it is planning new coal infrastructure such as a coal export terminal or a railway line dedicated to coal transportation.


Gradually Lowering the Thresholds

The relative and absolute thresholds we use to determine whether a company should be on the GCEL were developed in 2015, when we began building the original database. The intent was to provide the information financial institutions needed to begin developing and implementing first coal restriction policies. In the meantime, however, the climate crisis has deepened in urgency. According to the 2018 IPPC report, coal-fired power production must be reduced by 78% by 2030 and the IEA below 2°C scenario calls for a complete coal phase-out by 2040. Meeting these deadlines requires a tightening of the thresholds we use to determine which companies are included in the database.

The following relative and absolute thresholds will therefore be applied for the 2020 update of the GCEL:

CSR                              >20%
CSPP                            >20%
Absolute mining       >10 Mt p.a.
Absolute power        >5 GW

 

What’s more …
It should be noted that the GCEL also lists the financial subsidiaries of relevant companies as these play a crucial role in raising funds for the coal industry.

If a parameter cannot be determined for a specific company due to adverse data conditions, we use “NA” (not available) and “NI” (no information) as cell entries. NA is entered if we know that a company engages in coal-related business activities, but the exact extent cannot be ascertained. NI is used if we were unable to find any information on the respective parameter and are unsure as to whether the company even engages in this type of coal-related activity.

Watch List
We keep track of all companies researched. Even if they do not qualify for of the GCEL, they are put on our “watch list”. This list also contains companies that are in a restructuring process, and for which no reliable data is yet available. If you have any questions on a company not listed in our public database, please contact us at coalexit@urgewald.org.

No database is perfect
We have done our best to achieve broad coverage of coal companies in all regions of the world and to find and document the information outlined above for each of the companies on the GCEL. However, there are still gaps and uncertainties, due to the fact that much of the information we work with is hard to find. Therefore, we are happy to receive any additions or corrections to further develop this project. Please email us at coalexit@urgewald.org.

 

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