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The Impact of Divestment Announcements on the Share Price of Fossil Fuel Stocks

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  • Truzaar Dordi

    (School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED), University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada)

  • Olaf Weber

    (School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED), University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1, Canada)

Abstract

Several prominent institutional investors concerned about climate change have announced their intention or have divested from fossil fuel shares, to limit their exposure to the industry. The act of fossil fuel divestment may directly depress share prices or stigmatize the industry’s reputation, resulting in lower share value. While there has been considerable research conducted on the performance of the fossil fuel industry, there is not yet any empirical evidence that divestment announcements influence share prices. Adopting an event study methodology, this study measures abnormal deviations in stock prices of the top 200 global oil, gas, and coal companies by proven reserves, on days of prominent divestment announcements. Events are analyzed independently and in aggregate. The results make several notable contributions. While many events experienced short-term negative abnormal returns around the event day, the effects of events were more pronounced over longer event windows following the New York Climate March, suggesting a shift in investor perception. The results also find that divestment announcements related to campaigns, pledges, and endorsements all have a significant effect over the short-term event window. Finally, the results control for the general underperformance of the industry over the estimation window, attesting that the price change is caused by divestment announcements. Several robustness tests using alternate expected returns models and statistical tests were conducted to ensure the accuracy of the result. Overall, this study finds that divestment announcements decrease the share price of the fossil fuel companies, and thus, we conclude that ‘divestors’ can influence the share price of their target companies. Theoretically, the result adds new knowledge regarding the efficacy of the efficient market hypothesis in relation to divestment.

Suggested Citation

  • Truzaar Dordi & Olaf Weber, 2019. "The Impact of Divestment Announcements on the Share Price of Fossil Fuel Stocks," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 11(11), pages 1-20, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:11:y:2019:i:11:p:3122-:d:236715
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    3. Bassen, Alexander & Kaspereit, Thomas & Buchholz, Daniel, 2021. "The Capital Market Impact of Blackrock’s Thermal Coal Divestment Announcement," Finance Research Letters, Elsevier, vol. 41(C).
    4. Moses Msiska & Alex Ng & Randall K. Kimmel, 2021. "Doing well by doing good with the performance of United Nations Global Compact Climate Change Champions," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 8(1), pages 1-11, December.
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    6. Yiping Zhang & Olaf Weber, 2022. "Investors’ Moral and Financial Concerns—Ethical and Financial Divestment in the Fossil Fuel Industry," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 14(4), pages 1-12, February.
    7. Rohleder, Martin & Wilkens, Marco & Zink, Jonas, 2022. "The effects of mutual fund decarbonization on stock prices and carbon emissions," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 134(C).
    8. Daniel Rosenbloom & Adrian Rinscheid, 2020. "Deliberate decline: An emerging frontier for the study and practice of decarbonization," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 11(6), November.
    9. Yonatan Strauch & Truzaar Dordi & Angela Carter, 2020. "Constraining fossil fuels based on 2 °C carbon budgets: the rapid adoption of a transformative concept in politics and finance," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 160(2), pages 181-201, May.

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