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An Efficiency Perspective on Carbon Emissions and Financial Performance

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  • Trinks, Arjan
  • Mulder, Machiel
  • Scholtens, Bert

Abstract

International policy actions to constrain carbon emissions create substantial risks and opportunities for firms. In particular, production processes that are relatively high emitting will be more sensitive to the uncertain costs of emitting carbon dioxide and might further reflect productive inefficiencies. We employ a productive efficiency model to evaluate firms' carbon emission levels relative to those of best-practice (efficient) peers with comparable production structures. By accounting for total factor productivity and sector-relative performance aspects, this measure of carbon efficiency helps to quantify and rank firms' relative dependence on carbon in the production process. We investigate the impact of carbon efficiency on various financial performance outcomes and evaluate the role of general resource efficiency in explaining these impacts. Using an international sample of 1572 firms over the years 2009–2017, we find superior financial performance in carbon-efficient (best-practice) firms. On average, a 0.1 higher carbon efficiency is associated with a 1.0% higher profitability and 0.6% lower systematic risk. While carbon efficiency closely relates to resource efficiency, it also has distinct financial performance impacts, particularly lowering systematic risk. Overall, our findings suggest that carbon-efficient production can be valuable from both operational and risk management perspectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Trinks, Arjan & Mulder, Machiel & Scholtens, Bert, 2020. "An Efficiency Perspective on Carbon Emissions and Financial Performance," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 175(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:175:y:2020:i:c:s0921800919310675
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106632
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Carbon efficiency; Financial performance; Directional distance function; Total factor productivity; Data envelopment analysis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D24 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Production; Cost; Capital; Capital, Total Factor, and Multifactor Productivity; Capacity
    • D62 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Externalities
    • G32 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Financing Policy; Financial Risk and Risk Management; Capital and Ownership Structure; Value of Firms; Goodwill
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • Q41 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

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