NEWS RELEASE: Private Equity is Financing the Climate Crisis Away from Public Scrutiny


May 19, 2022

Carter Dougherty
(202) 251-6700

Private Equity is Financing the Climate Crisis Away from Public Scrutiny

The private equity industry owned close to 700 utility-scale power generation facilities in the United States in 2021 that emitted about 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually — more than the whole country of Argentina, according to a new investigation of Wall Street’s role in the climate crisis.

“The private equity industry has become a major force behind climate change by financing a substantial greenhouse gas emitting sector with little public awareness or regulatory oversight,” said Oscar Valdes Viera, research manager at Americans for Financial Reform. “This report contributes to closing the informational gap regarding private equity’s shadowy investments in a sector with tremendous impact on the public interest and on the environmental or social impacts of their activities.”

The full report can be found here.

“Private equity firms have emerged as pollution financiers of last resort, using money from institutional investors including pension funds, university endowments, and foundations, to keep fossil fuel-burning power plants pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere away from the public eye,” Valdes Viera continued. The report documents that:

  • Eighty percent of the approximately 150,000 megawatts of private equity-owned power generation capacity is powered by fossil fuels.
  • Private equity-owned power plants emit an estimated 200 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, representing 14 percent of all U.S. power plant carbon emissions.
  • Private equity owns over five times more fossil fuel generation capacity than capacity in wind and solar power.