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Research shows major investment firm is responsible for a 'bomb' of pollution: 'Our report just scratches the surface'

It's common for firms like this one to invest in polluting energy projects without being transparent about their activities.

Carlyle Group

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An investment company called the Carlyle Group claims to be an industry climate leader making strides in eco-friendly investment, the Guardian reported

Yet since 2011, the company has allegedly more than doubled the amount of heat-trapping air pollution produced by its investments. 

According to new research by the Private Equity Climate Risks project, the Carlyle Group is responsible for over 300 million tons of heat-trapping gas released into the atmosphere between 2011 and 2021.

What's happening?

To calculate the Carlyle Group's impact on the environment, the research group used a tool developed by the Initiative Climat International, the Guardian explained. The project relied on publicly available information about the companies that the Carlyle Group owned or invested in.

What they found was that the Carlyle Group had caused about the same air pollution in 10 years as what the Willow project — a controversial Alaskan oil drilling project that has been referred to as a ticking "carbon bomb" — will create over multiple decades. 

To remove that much heat-trapping gas from our air, the Carlyle Group would need to plant an estimated 4.6 billion new trees — and even then, it would take another decade for the trees to mature enough to make a meaningful impact.

The Private Equity Climate Risks project also reported that the Carlyle Group's polluting activities happened mostly in low-income areas and most often affected communities of color.

Publicly, the Carlyle Group has claimed to "drive positive change" with "activities grounded in driving real emission reductions," the Guardian reported. It started investing in affordable, cleaner energy sources in 2019. However, at the end of 2022, 94% of its investments in energy were still in highly polluting dirty energy sources, like gas, oil, and coal.

Why do the Carlyle Group's investments matter?

The Carlyle Group is a private equity firm, meaning that its investments take place outside of public markets and dodge government regulation, the Guardian explained

It's common for firms like this one to invest in polluting energy projects without being transparent about their activities. Ordinary people may have their pension funds invested in the Carlyle Group and similar organizations and may have no idea what their money is funding.

Meanwhile, these firms contribute a huge amount to pollution and the world's rising temperature, which harms our communities.

What can be done about the problem?

The Private Equity Climate Risks project called for more regulation of private equity firms. 

"Carlyle cannot benefit from the financial upsides of NGP's fossil fuel revenue streams without also being accountable for the environmental impacts," Amanda Mendoza, co-author and climate researcher at the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, told the Guardian. "Our report just scratches the surface of its fossil fuel impacts."

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