Coal barge in front of temples in Indonesia

Methodology

Which companies end up on the CGEL?

The aim of our database is to identify all companies that play a significant role in the thermal coal value chain. In contrast to many other databases, the GCEL therefore includes not only coal miners and coal power producers, but also companies involved in coal exploration, coal processing, coal trading, coal transport & logistics, coal equipment manufacturing, coal-related O&M and EPC services and Coal-to-Liquids as well as Coal-to-Gas production. The GCEL currently provides thermal coal-related data for 935 parent companies and over 1,800 subsidiaries and joint ventures. It, however, does not cover coal used for cement or steel production.

Thermal Coal Value Chain

circle of companies and industies involved in coal production

We use three clearly defined criteria to determine whether a company should be listed on the GCEL. These criteria were designed to ensure the inclusion of all companies, for which coal constitutes an essential part of their business model, which are an integral part of the global coal industry or which are expanding coal-related business. 

Criteria

All companies listed on the 2020 GCEL meet at least one of the following 3 criteria:

Description of relative, absolute and expansion criteria

Relative Criteria

The coal share of revenue (csr) measures the share of a company’s coal-related business with regard to its total revenue. If companies provide sufficient information, the GCEL differentiates between business activities related to thermal and metallurgical coal. Wherever possible, we calculate the thermal coal share of revenue taking the entire thermal coal value chain into account.

For utilities, we calculate the coal share of power production (cspp). If numbers on annual coal power generation are not available, the calculation is based on installed capacity.

All companies that have a coal share of revenue or a coal share of power production of 20% or more are listed on the GCEL.

 

Absolute Criteria

These criteria are based on the absolute size of a company’s coal operations. They ensure that all of the world’s largest coal players are featured on the GCEL, even if they do not meet our relative criteria. This is important because some of the world’s largest coal miners and coal plant operators are diversified companies. Their coal share of revenue may be below 20%, but this doesn’t make their activities less harmful.

The GCEL therefore includes all companies:

  • whose annual thermal coal production equals or exceeds 10 million tons
  • whose installed coal-fired capacity equals or exceeds 5 GW

 

Expansion Criteria

The GCEL includes companies that are pursuing coal power, coal mining or coal infrastructure expansion plans. The following companies fulfill the expansion criteria: Power: Companies planning to develop new coal-fired power capacity of at least 300 MW.

Mining: Companies engaged in coal exploration activities; planning to develop new coal mines or planning a significant increase of at least 1 Mt annual thermal coal production.

Services: Companies involved in the development or expansion of coal transportation assets or other coal-related infrastructure such as coal-to-gas facilities.

 

Tighter Thresholds

From 2017 to 2019, we used relative thresholds of 30% and absolute thresholds of 20 Mt and 10 GW to determine which companies were listed on the GCEL. In view of the deepening climate crisis and the 2018 IPPC report, which maintains that coal-fired power production must be reduced by 78% by 2030, the departure from coal, however, needs to be speeded up. We therefore applied tighter thresholds to compile the 2020 GCEL.

Sources

The GCEL is based on publicly available information. Most of the coal-related data is extracted from companies' own reporting. This includes company websites, annual reports, credit rating reports and other company documents such as sustainability reports, investor presentations and stock exchange filings. In some countries, we also rely on official information provided on government-owned websites.

For the coal power expansion data, we use Global Energy Monitor’s Global Coal Plant Tracker and other sources in cases where original company information is not available. We always utilize the most recent information we can find during the research period. But of course, no database is perfect. We are therefore happy to receive any information that helps us improve our database. Just write to coalexit@urgewald.org.

Watch List

We keep track of all companies researched. If they have coal-related business, but do not qualify for 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.

For more detailed information on the GCEL methodology please download this PDF.