Controversial Companies

The data on GCEL can't tell the full story of how coal companies are displacing communities, destroying ecosystems, violating environmental regulations, and wrecking peoples’ health. Here, we put a spotlight on some of the most controversial companies and their impacts.

Adani Group

India’s Adani Group is one of the world’s most controversial coal conglomerates. The group’s thermal coal activities include power plants, coal mines and related service and logistic operations. The Group’s subsidiary Adani Power Limited owns India’s largest private coal plant fleet and is the country’s second biggest coal plant developer. Adani Power’s projects have time and again made headlines for violating human rights and breaching environmental regulations. Adani Enterprise Limited – another listed subsidiary of the Group – is one of the world’s largest coal mine operators and developers. Adani is developing 14 new coal mines across India with a combined capacity of over 40 Mt per year and plans to ramp up the production of its infamous Carmichael coal mine in Australia to 60 Mt per year.

In January 2023, the short-seller Hindenburg Research published a 106-page report accusing the Adani Group of “brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud”. Documents obtained by investigative journalists also indicate that a labyrinth of offshore shell entities were used to artificially inflate Adani’s stock prices and move money in and out of its listed companies. Two US regulators - the Security and Exchange Comission and the US Attorney Office - are investigating Adani Group's representations to investors.

NGOs working on Adani:

Adani Watch

Stop Adani

Toxic Bonds Campaign

Human Sign to Stop Adani
Human Sign in Townsville, Australia / Stop Adani Movement

Duke Energy Corp

Duke Energy is one of the biggest power utilities in the United States and operates almost 13 GW of coal-fired capacity in 5 US states: North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Florida. Coal accounts for around ¼ of the company’s total generation capacity and Duke Energy’s Gibson Power Plant in Indiana and its Crystal River Power Plant in Florida are among the dirtiest coal plants in the US. To align with a 1.5°C  pathway, coal plants in OECD countries must be retired by 2030. Duke Energy, however, wants to continue generating coal power until 2035. And even then, the company aims to replace most of its coal-fired power generation with fossil gas.

Duke Energy has a long, long record of environmental violations. For decades, the company stored poisonous coal ash from its power plants in unlined pits alongside rivers and streams. In 2014, this led to a major disaster, when 39,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of untreated coal slurry spilled into the Dan River in North Carolina. Subsequently, the company was found guilty of criminal behavior and sentenced to one of the highest fines in the history of the US Clean Water Act. It, however, took almost another decade of litigation by environmental groups, until Duke Energy was finally forced to sign a settlement agreeing to clean up all of its coal ash ponds across North Carolina.

NGOs working on Duke Energy:

Southern Environmental Law Center

The Sierra Club

Protest because of Duke ash spill in 2014_Jason Miczek / Greenpeace
Protest against Dukes coal ash ponds in 2014, after the ash spill at Dan River / Jason Miczek, Greenpeace

Glencore PLC

Switzerland’s Glencore is the world’s 11th largest producer of thermal coal with an annual production of 97 Mt at its mines in Australia, South Africa and Colombia. Besides selling coal from its own mines, Glencore also trades in third party coal, making the company one of the largest exporters of thermal coal worldwide. 

While most diversified mining companies are turning their back on thermal coal, Glencore has no plans to phase out its coal production. In fact, the company is still developing new coal mines and planning to extend the life of its existing mines. Together with its joint venture partner, Yancoal, Glencore aims to extend the life of its Hunter Valley coal operations in Australia until 2045 (South Pit) and 2050 (North Pit). Between 2023 and the newly proposed end dates, both mines would produce close to 1 billion tons of coal.

Since 2010, Glencore has racked up at least 70 allegations linked to human rights abuses and environmental pollution. In 2022, the company acquired full ownership of South America’s largest open-pit mine, Cerrejón, from its joint venture partners BHP and Anglo American. For years, Glencore’s Colombian coal mining operations in Cerrejón have led to the displacement of indigenous communities, polluted the region’s air and contaminated vital water sources.

NGOs working on Glencore:

London Mining Network

Yukpa Solidarity Network

ask! - Arbeitsgruppe Schweiz - Kolumbien

Lock the Gate

OECD Watch

Colombian activists and supporters protest at the HQ of Glencore Energy UK
Colombian activists and supporters protest at the HQ of Glencore Energy UK / Ron Fassbender, Alamy Stock Photo

Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO)

South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is one of the largest electric utilities in the world. It owns and operates over 36 GW of coal-fired power plants, including the 6,100 MW Taean coal power plant, South Korea’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. In order to comply with a 1.5°C aligned path, KEPCO would have to retire its gigantic coal fleet by 2030. However, the company only plans to phase out coal in 2050 – twenty years too late. To make matters worse, its coal plants will largely be replaced with new fossil gas-fired capacity. As of 2023, KEPCOs renewable capacity amounts to a mere 2% of its installed capacity, underlying the company’s unwillingness to wean itself off fossil fuels.

But KEPCO is not only failing to phase out its domestic coal capacity in time; it is also developing 3 new coal-fired power stations in Southeast Asia with a total capacity of 4,200 MW. One of these is the controversial Vung Ang 2 coal power plant in Vietnam, which has been staunchly opposed by investors, NGOs and local communities. KEPCO is developing the project together with the Japanese companies Mitsubishi, Chugoku Electric and Shikoku Electric. In June 2020, KEPCO’s board also endorsed the construction of units 9 and 10 of the Banten Suralaya coal power station in Indonesia. The two 1000 MW units are slated to go online in 2026, ensuring a devastating carbon lock-in for decades to come. The Banten Suralaya power complex is located 150 km west of Jakarta, and is a major contributor to the emissions, which make Jakarta one of the most polluted capitals worldwide. A recent study found that the existing plant is already responsible for up to 1640 premature deaths annually. The two new units will increase this number even further.

NGOs working on KEPCO:

Solutions for our Climate



Civic group protesters hold a press conference to call for Kepco to scrap the Vung Ang 2 coal power plant project at Kepco‘s office in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul, on Oct. 5. (Yonhap)
Civic group protesters hold a press conference to call for KEPCO to scrap the Vung Ang 2 coal power plant project at KEPCO‘s office in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul / Yonhap