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When and Why Does It Pay To Be Green?

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  • Stefan Ambec
  • Paul Lanoie

Abstract

The conventional wisdom about environmental protection is that it comes at an additional cost on firms imposed by the government, which may erode their global competitiveness. However, during the last decade, this paradigm has been challenged by a number of analysts. In particular, Porter (Porter, 1991; Porter and van der Linde, 1995) argues that pollution is often associated with a waste of resources (material, energy, etc.), and that more stringent environmental policies can stimulate innovations that may compensate for the costs of complying with these policies. This is known as the Porter hypothesis. In fact, there are many ways through which improving the environmental performance of a company can lead to a better economic or financial performance, and not necessarily to an increase in cost. To be systematic, it is important to look at both sides of the balance sheet. First, a better environmental performance can lead to an increase in revenues through the following channels: i) a better access to certain markets; ii) the possibility to differentiate products and iii) the possibility to sell pollution-control technology. Second, a better environmental performance can lead to cost reductions in the following categories: iv) regulatory cost; v) cost of material, energy and services (this refers mainly to the Porter hypothesis); vi) cost of capital, and vii) cost of labour. Although these different possibilities have been identified from a conceptual or theoretical point of view for some time (Reinhardt, 2000; Lankoski, 2000, 2006), to our knowledge, there was no systematic effort to provide empirical evidences supporting the existence of these opportunities and assessing their magnitude. This is the objective of this paper. For each of the seven possibilities identified above [i) through vii)], we present the mechanisms involved, a systematic view of the empirical evidence available, and a discussion of the gaps in the empirical literature. The objective of the paper is not to show that a reduction of pollution is always accompanied by a better financial performance, it is rather to argue that the expenses incurred to reduce pollution can sometime be partly or completely compensated by gains made elsewhere. Through a systematic examination of all the possibilities, we also want to identify the circumstances most likely to lead to a win-win situation, i.e., better environmental and financial performance. La vision traditionnelle au sujet de la réglementation de l'environnement est qu'elle représente un coût additionnel pour des firmes, ce qui peut éroder leur compétitivité globale. Cependant, pendant la dernière décennie, ce paradigme a été remis en cause par un certain nombre d'analystes. En particulier, Porter (Porter, 1991, Porter et van der Linde, 1995) argue du fait que la pollution est souvent associée à un gaspillage des ressources (matériel, énergie, etc.), et que des politiques environnementales plus strictes peuvent stimuler les innovations, ce qui peut compenser les coûts entraînés par ces politiques. Ceci est connu comme l'hypothèse de Porter. En fait, il existe plusieurs raisons pour lesquelles l'amélioration de la performance environnementale d'une firme peut s'accompagner d'une meilleure performance économique ou financière, et pas nécessairement d'une augmentation de coût. Pour être systématique, il est important de regarder les deux côtés de l'état des produits et des charges. Tout d'abord, une meilleure performance environnementale peut mener à une augmentation des revenus par les canaux suivants : i) un meilleur accès à certains marchés, ii) la possibilité de différencier des produits et iii) la possibilité de vendre la technologie de dépollution. En second lieu, une meilleure performance environnementale peut mener à des réductions de coûts dans les catégories suivantes : iv) coût réglementaire, v) coût en ressources, énergie et services (ceci se réfère principalement à l'hypothèse de Porter), vi) coût en capitaux, et vii) coût du travail. Bien que ces différentes possibilités aient été identifiées d'un point de vue conceptuel ou théorique depuis un certain temps (Reinhardt, 2000 ; Lankoski, 2000, 2006), à notre connaissance, aucun effort systématique n'a été fait pour fournir des évidences empiriques soutenant l'existence de ces opportunités et évaluant leur importance. C'est l'objectif de cet article. Pour chacune des sept possibilités identifiées ci-dessus [de i) à vii)], nous présentons les mécanismes impliqués, une description des évidences empiriques disponibles, et une discussion des lacunes de la littérature empirique. L'objectif du texte n'est pas de prouver qu'une réduction de pollution est toujours accompagnée d'une meilleure performance financière, il est plutôt de montrer que les coûts encourus pour réduire la pollution peuvent parfois être compensés, en partie ou complètement, par des gains effectués ailleurs. Par un examen systématique de toutes possibilités, nous voulons également identifier les circonstances pouvant mener à une situation « gagnant-gagnant », c'est-à-dire, une meilleure performance environnementale et financière.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Ambec & Paul Lanoie, 2007. "When and Why Does It Pay To Be Green?," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-20, CIRANO.
  • Handle: RePEc:cir:cirwor:2007s-20
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    Cited by:

    1. Wei, Zuobao & Xie, Feixue & Posthuma, Richard A., 2011. "Does it pay to pollute? Shareholder wealth consequences of corporate environmental lawsuits," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 212-218, September.
    2. Stefan Ambec & Paul Lanoie, 2009. "Performance environnementale et économique de l’entreprise," Économie et Prévision, Programme National Persée, vol. 190(4), pages 71-94.
    3. Paul Lanoie & Daniel Llerena, 2007. "Des billets verts pour des entreprises agricoles vertes?," CIRANO Working Papers 2007s-17, CIRANO.
    4. Wolfgang Schultze & Ramona Trommer, 2012. "The concept of environmental performance and its measurement in empirical studies," Metrika: International Journal for Theoretical and Applied Statistics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 375-412, January.
    5. Alain-Désiré Nimubona & Bernard Sinclair-Desgagné, 2011. "Polluters and Abaters," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 103-104, pages 9-24.
    6. repec:dgr:umamer:2005008 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Paul Lanoie & Jérémy Laurent‐Lucchetti & Nick Johnstone & Stefan Ambec, 2011. "Environmental Policy, Innovation and Performance: New Insights on the Porter Hypothesis," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 803-842, September.
    8. Kriechel, Ben & Ziesemer, Thomas, 2003. "The Environmental Porter Hypothesis as a Technology Adoption Problem?," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology (MERIT).
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    10. Fabio Iraldo & Francesco Testa & Vlasis Oikonomou & Michela Melis & Marco Frey & Eise Spijker, 2009. "A literature review on the links between environmental regulation and competitiveness," Working Papers 200904, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna of Pisa, Istituto di Management.
    11. Gerard Hirigoyen & Thierry Poulain-Rehm, 2015. "Relationships between Corporate Social Responsibility and financial performance: What is the Causality?," Post-Print hal-01430986, HAL.
    12. Paul Lanoie & Daniel Llerena, 2007. "Des billets verts pour des entreprises agricoles vertes?," Cahiers de recherche 07-07, HEC Montréal, Institut d'économie appliquée.
    13. Lanoie, P. & Llerena, D., 2007. "Des billets verts pour des entreprises agricoles vertes ?," Working Papers 200707, Grenoble Applied Economics Laboratory (GAEL).
    14. Luc Eyraud & Changchang Zhang & Abdoul A Wane & Benedict J. Clements, 2011. "Who's Going Green and Why? Trends and Determinants of Green Investment," IMF Working Papers 11/296, International Monetary Fund.
    15. Rim Makni & Claude Francoeur & François Bellavance, 2009. "Causality Between Corporate Social Performance and Financial Performance: Evidence from Canadian Firms," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 89(3), pages 409-422, October.
    16. Eyraud, Luc & Clements, Benedict & Wane, Abdoul, 2013. "Green investment: Trends and determinants," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 852-865.

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    Keywords

    environmental performance; environmental regulation; environmental innovation; capital cost; Porter hypothesis.; performance environnementale; réglementation environnementale; innovation environnementale; coût du capital; hypothèse de Porter.;

    JEL classification:

    • L21 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Business Objectives of the Firm
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • Q52 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Pollution Control Adoption and Costs; Distributional Effects; Employment Effects
    • Q55 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Technological Innovation
    • Q58 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environmental Economics: Government Policy

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