Project & Partners

To Fight Climate Change, We Need to Understand Its Biggest Driver: The Coal Industry

Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List (GCEL) is a powerful information tool and has played an influential role in shaping new policies by financial institutions on coal. Before the GCEL was published no one was providing good answers to the question: “Who belongs to the global coal industry”? As a matter of fact, before the GCEL was first published in 2017, hardly anyone realized that this question needed to be asked.

The availability or lack of information has a huge impact on the finance industry’s willingness to act. Even if the CEO of a financial institution is, in principle, willing to take action on coal, the first questions that come up are: How many companies in our portfolio would this affect? Which are these companies and how large are the positions we hold in them? What would be the overall impact of this decision on our portfolio?

But as a prominent French finance campaigner, says, “The Global Coal Exit List changed everything. It allowed us to move from general protests to putting forward fact-based and do-able demands for moving financial institutions’ portfolios away from coal”. With the help of the database, financial institutions could estimate how a policy commitment on coal would impact their portfolios and this often encouraged them to either take first policy steps or to upgrade existing policies. As of summer 2019, institutions with close to US$ 10 trillion assets under management are using at least one of the three GCEL criteria to screen coal companies out of their portfolios.

The second update of the GCEL was published in September 2019, and we hope it will encourage further financial actors to adopt or improve policies for a phase out of coal-related finance, investment and underwriting.


Urgewald is a German environment and human rights NGO. It was founded in 1992 to monitor the activities of European banks and companies abroad and to provide advocacy services to communities, whose environment and livelihoods are threatened by controversial investment projects. A special trademark of its work is the combination of in-depth research, media outreach and public campaigning. Over the years, Urgewald has led many successful campaigns and today plays a key role in efforts to establish strong, binding environmental and social standards for international finance and investment. In 2015, Urgewald was able to move two of the world’s largest investors - the Norwegian Government Pension Fund and the German insurance company Allianz - to divest from the coal industry. Since then many investors followed and to date, more than 200 financial institutions are registered users of Urgewald’s Global Coal Exit List.

See a list of Urgewald’s major successes (PDF).

Urgewald's Coal Research Team
Lydia Kroll, Nils Bartsch, Tzvetana Jambova, Marc Bühnemann, Katrin Ganswindt (Finance Research)

Contract Researchers
Yuan Zhao, Bengisu Özenç, Maria Kaminskaya, Baoyin Yuan



Whenever a company’s reporting is not detailed enough, for example with regard to planned coal projects, we are able to rely on an extensive, global NGO network, and access information from local organizations, many of which have been working on coal-related issues for decades. One of our key partners is the NGO Global Energy Monitor. Its Global Coal Plant Tracker lists all coal power stations in planning or various development stages worldwide and is an important information source for the GCEL. We combine its data with our company research to identify the coal plant developers on the GCEL.


Collaborating Organizations

global energy monitorlogo bank track logo rainforestnetwork logo Les Amis de la Terre logo recommon logo APMDD logo fundagja logo Jac8es logo Life after Coal logo UCCBlogo the sunrise projectpower for people coalitionclimate action network europeLogo 350 Logo KFEM Logo Change VN Logo Environics India WALHI Logo INSAF Logo AURIGAceed350.org_ghana Green IDhttps://ecodefense.ru AmbientalLogo PMCJ



Thanks to Donors

Logo KR Foundation Logo Rockefeller Brothers Fund Logo grassroots foundation logo Olin



Support our Research is a platform free of charge. However, it is based on a years-long and extremely costly research. Please help Urgewald with your donation.