Adani Boosting Coal Assets Despite Vow to Be Carbon Neutral

Billionaire Gautam S. Adani, chairman of Adani Group, center, at an event in Tokyo. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

Adani Boosting Coal Assets Despite Vow to Be Carbon Neutral

Gautam Adani is increasing his footprint in fossil fuels, new research shows, even as the Indian billionaire vows to make his ports-to-power conglomerate carbon negative.

The Adani Group is doubling its coal-fired power capacity to 24 gigawatts, plans to own, develop or operate new coal mines with a combined capacity of 132 million tons a year, and is pursuing oil and gas projects, including a partnership with France’s TotalEnergies SE, according to a report published Monday by environmental nonprofit Market Forces. The Australia-based organization, a vocal critic of Adani’s Carmichael coal project in Queensland, said its analysis is based on data from across several Adani holdings.

Taken together, these initiatives show a company that is making a significant negative contribution to global warming rather than preparing for the energy transition, said Pablo Brait, a campaigner at Market Forces.

The findings may increase scrutiny on the India-based group and its founder, who is rapidly rising up the ranks of Asia’s richest people and earlier this year signed one of the continent’s biggest clean energy loans with 12 global banks. While almost all of Adani’s coal assets are in India -- where the government says it can’t prioritize eliminating emissions without sufficient financing from richer nations -- it is facing growing pressure from activists and some investors over the Carmichael project.

A representative for the Adani Group didn’t respond to an email and call seeking comment. The conglomerate will transition to carbon negative “by carefully balancing our energy migration,” Gautam Adani said June 30 at the India Global Forum, without providing a timeline. He added that a shift away from cheaper fossil fuels “should not crush the aspirations of the thousands that lack electricity.” Coal currently contributes to almost 70% of India’s electricity production, though that share has been declining.

While addressing his group’s shareholders on Monday, tycoon Adani said Adani Green Energy Ltd. became the world’s largest solar company in 2020 and after a recent acquisition, has reached its renewables target of 25 gigawatts four years ahead of schedule. “I know of no other organization in the world that has accelerated its renewables footprint as rapidly as the Adani Group,” he said.

Transitioning

Market Forces’s Brait said the report was partly prompted by conversations with banks, including Barclays Plc and Credit Suisse Group AG, which said they were willing to finance Adani because it was a company transitioning to clean energy. Officials at Barclays and Credit Suisse declined to comment.

State Bank of India, the nation’s largest lender, hasn’t decided whether to help finance the Carmichael mine following mounting pressure from climate activists and investors, Bloomberg reported in April.

“A lot of finance sector companies are increasingly making pledges around climate change and fossil fuels, but Adani is really a test of those commitments,” Brait said. “Because if you are still prepared to support a company that’s so heavily invested in new fossil fuels, then you need to reexamine your commitments and make sure they have some teeth.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.