The unaccounted risk of fossil fuel investments

A used fuel barrel sits in the the Yazoo River flood waters near Yazoo City, Mississippi.

JEREMY HOBSON: Well one place investors have turned to for safety is fossil fuels. They've been pumping their money into things like oil, natural gas, and coal. But a study out today says there may be a fossil fuel bubble.

From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Eve Troeh reports.

EVE TROEH: Fossil fuels are a huge part of the financial markets. Pensions, mutual funds, governments -- most big investors hold major stock in oil, coal and gas. The Carbon Tracker Initiative, along with accounting firm KPMG, says those investments may not be worth what we think.

OLGA CHISTYAKOVA: Because the risks of emissions from fossil fuel burnings are not taken into account when the valuation of the companies is performed.

That's Olga Chistyakova, an analyst at Point Carbon. She says investors won't factor in the risk of greenhouse gas emissions on their own. Only tougher regulations would push them.

Cary Krosinsky follows environmental risk at TruCost. He says ignoring emissions could mean there's a bubble in fossil fuels.

CARY KROSINSKY: Bubbles tend to form when people ignore risks that could otherwise have been anticipated.

He says companies and investors that measure the risk now -- and adjust accordingly -- could be ahead of the curve.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.


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