This study shows that substantial ownership and strategic control over Canada’s fossil-fuel sector are in the hands of a few major players, including all the Canadian big banks and several US investment funds, governments and some wealthy families—many of which are located outside Canada.

And, these investors have high stakes in maintaining business as usual rather than addressing the industry’s serious climate issues. They have both an interest in the continued growth of the sector and the economic power to shape its future.

The study highlights the important role of banks and institutional investors despite the relatively small ownership stakes any given investor tends to hold in a single fossil fuel company. Each institutional investor may own less than 10 per cent of any single company, but as a group they own far more, placing them in a position to exert control as a “constellation of interests”.

Analyzing shareholder and revenue data from recent years, the authors found that ownership of the sector is highly concentrated with the top 25 owners together accounting for more than 40 per cent of total fossil fuel industry revenues during the six-year period studied from 2010 to 2015.


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News Release

This study is part of the Corporate Mapping Project (CMP), a research and public engagement initiative investigating the power of the fossil fuel industry. The CMP is jointly led by the University of Victoria, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Parkland Institute. This research was supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Author: William K. Carroll and M. Jouke Huijzer

William K. Carroll is Professor of Sociology at the University of Victoria and Co-Director of the Corporate Mapping Project, a research and public engagement project investigating the power of the fossil fuel industry in western Canada.

M. Jouke Huijzer worked as a research assistant for the Corporate Mapping Project at the University of Victoria in fall 2015. Currently he is pursuing a PhD. at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.