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Voluntary corporate environmental initiatives and shareholder wealth

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  • Fisher-Vanden, Karen
  • Thorburn, Karin S.

Abstract

Researchers debate whether environmental investments reduce firm value or actually improve financial performance. We provide some compelling evidence on shareholder wealth effects of membership in voluntary environmental programs (VEPs). Companies announcing membership in EPA's Climate Leaders, a program targeting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, experience significantly negative abnormal stock returns. The price decline is larger in firms with poor corporate governance structures, and for high market-to-book (i.e., high growth) firms. However, firms joining Ceres, a program involving more general environmental commitments, have insignificant announcement returns, as do portfolios of industry rivals. Overall, corporate commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions appear to conflict with firm value maximization. This has important implications for policies that rely on voluntary initiatives to address climate change. Further, we find that firms facing climate-related shareholder resolutions or firms with weak corporate governance standards – giving managers the discretion to make such voluntary environmentally responsible investment decisions – are more likely to join Climate Leaders; decisions that may result in lower firm value.

Suggested Citation

  • Fisher-Vanden, Karen & Thorburn, Karin S., 2011. "Voluntary corporate environmental initiatives and shareholder wealth," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 62(3), pages 430-445.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeeman:v:62:y:2011:i:3:p:430-445
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jeem.2011.04.003
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    Cited by:

    1. Mollet, Janick Christian & Ziegler, Andreas, 2014. "Socially responsible investing and stock performance: New empirical evidence for the US and European stock markets," Review of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(4), pages 208-216.
    2. L. Lambertini & A. Palestini & A. Tampieri, 2014. "CSR in an Asymmetric Duopoly with Environmental Externalities," Working Papers wp959, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    3. Oberndorfer, Ulrich & Schmidt, Peter & Wagner, Marcus & Ziegler, Andreas, 2013. "Does the stock market value the inclusion in a sustainability stock index? An event study analysis for German firms," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 66(3), pages 497-509.
    4. Hjort, Ingrid, 2016. "Potential Climate Risks in Financial Markets: A Literature Overview," Memorandum 01/2016, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
    5. Albuquerque, Rui & Durnev, Artyom & Koskinen, Yrjö, 2013. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Firm Risk: Theory and Empirical Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 9533, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. repec:kap:jbuset:v:143:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2758-2 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:enepol:v:110:y:2017:i:c:p:410-421 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Will Gans & Beat Hintermann, 2013. "Market Effects of Voluntary Climate Action by Firms: Evidence from the Chicago Climate Exchange," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 55(2), pages 291-308, June.
    9. Lyon, Thomas & Lu, Yao & Shi, Xinzheng & Yin, Qie, 2013. "How do investors respond to Green Company Awards in China?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 1-8.
    10. Jan Endrikat, 2016. "Market Reactions to Corporate Environmental Performance Related Events: A Meta-analytic Consolidation of the Empirical Evidence," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 138(3), pages 535-548, October.
    11. Aktas, Nihat & de Bodt, Eric & Cousin, Jean-Gabriel, 2011. "Do financial markets care about SRI? Evidence from mergers and acquisitions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 1753-1761, July.
    12. Dragan Ilic & Janick Christian Mollet, 2016. "Voluntary Corporate Climate Initiatives and Regulatory Loom: Batten Down the Hatches," CER-ETH Economics working paper series 16/261, CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research (CER-ETH) at ETH Zurich.
    13. Janick Christian Mollet & Andreas Ziegler, 2012. "Is Socially Responsible Investing Really Beneficial? New Empirical Evidence for the US and European Stock Markets," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201228, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    14. André Betzer & Markus Doumet & Ulf Rinne, 2013. "How policy changes affect shareholder wealth: the case of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(8), pages 799-803, May.
    15. Brouwers, Roel & Schoubben, Frederiek & Van Hulle, Cynthia & Van Uytbergen, Steve, 2016. "The initial impact of EU ETS verification events on stock prices," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 138-149.
    16. Thomas Lyon & A. Montgomery, 2013. "Tweetjacked: The Impact of Social Media on Corporate Greenwash," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 118(4), pages 747-757, December.
    17. Swarnodeep Homroy & Aurelie Cecile Dominique Slechten, 2016. "Board expertise, networked boards and environmental performance," Working Papers 140306795, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    18. Koch, Nicolas & Grosjean, Godefroy & Fuss, Sabine & Edenhofer, Ottmar, 2016. "Politics matters: Regulatory events as catalysts for price formation under cap-and-trade," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 121-139.
    19. Mukanjari, Samson & Sterner, Thomas, 2018. "Do Markets Trump Politics? Evidence from Fossil Market Reactions to the Paris Agreement and the U.S. Election," Working Papers in Economics 728, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    20. Ilić, Dragan & Mollet, Janick Christian, 2015. "Voluntary Corporate Climate Initiatives and Regulatory Loom: Batten Down the Hatches," Working papers 2015/06, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.
    21. Krüger, Philipp, 2015. "Corporate goodness and shareholder wealth," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 115(2), pages 304-329.
    22. Dylan Minor, 2015. "The Value of Corporate Citizenship: Protection," Harvard Business School Working Papers 16-021, Harvard Business School.
    23. Valenzuela Fernández, Leslier & Jara-Bertin, Mauricio & Villegas Pineaur, Francisco, 2015. "Práticas de responsabilidade social, reputação corporativa e desempenho financeiro," RAE - Revista de Administração de Empresas, FGV-EAESP Escola de Administração de Empresas de São Paulo (Brazil), vol. 55(3), May.
    24. repec:eee:touman:v:37:y:2013:i:c:p:203-209 is not listed on IDEAS
    25. Lioui, Abraham & Sharma, Zenu, 2012. "Environmental corporate social responsibility and financial performance: Disentangling direct and indirect effects," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 100-111.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corporate social responsibility; Environmentally responsible investing; Climate change; Greenhouse gas emissions; Capital expenditures; Shareholder wealth;

    JEL classification:

    • G31 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Capital Budgeting; Fixed Investment and Inventory Studies
    • G38 - Financial Economics - - Corporate Finance and Governance - - - Government Policy and Regulation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics

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