Voluntary Corporate Environmental Initiatives and Shareholder Wealth
51 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2010
Date Written: June 14, 2010
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 tend to join Climate Leaders either in response to climate-related shareholder resolutions or due to weak corporate governance standards which give managers the discretion to make such voluntary environmentally responsible investment decisions — decisions that may result in lower firm value.
Keywords: Corporate social responsibility, Environmentally responsible investing, Climate change, Greenhouse gas emissions, Capital expenditures, Shareholder wealth
JEL Classification: Q5, G31, G38
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation