Climate Risk Materiality and Firm Risk
65 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2017 Last revised: 20 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 11, 2020
Managers are required to disclose material climate risk (CR) in Form 10-K, but their decision whether or not to disclose is confounded by the lack of consensus on whether CR is material to the firms, as well as uncertainty about enforcement of disclosure regulations. Using the SASB Materiality Map™ to impute market expectations of CR materiality, we test whether the association between disclosing CR in 10-Ks and firm risk (proxied by cost of equity (COE)) varies with market expectations of CR materiality. Using S&P 500 firms’ CR disclosures over nine years, we find that disclosing firms’ COE is 27 bps lower than nondisclosers overall. In industries where the market expects CR to be material, disclosing firms’ COE is 50 bps lower than nondisclosers, while in industries where the market does not expect CR to be material, disclosing firms’ COE is 23 bps lower than nondisclosers. Our results indicate that market expectations of CR materiality allow inferences about the credibility of managers’ CR disclosure decisions.
Keywords: Regulation S-K; nonfinancial environmental risk; climate change risk; climate-related risk; regulatory enforcement; cost of equity capital; self-selection.
JEL Classification: G18, G32, M14, M41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation