Is 'Being Green' Rewarded in the Market?: An Empirical Investigation of Decarbonization and Stock Returns
Stanford Global Project Center Working Paper
61 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2017 Last revised: 16 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 2, 2018
Climate change could have potentially devastating effects on societies and economies globally, and climate finance to combat the challenges related to it demands a quantum of capital. Yet, this form of investment has been hampered by the unclear relationship between corporate environmental performance (EP) and financial performance (FP). In this regard, this study empirically investigates the risk-return relationship of low-carbon investment and characteristics of carbon-efficient firms. Based on 74,486 observations of 736 US firms from January 2005 to December 2015, we construct a carbon efficient-minus-inefficient (EMI) portfolio by carbon efficiency, defined as revenue-adjusted greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at firm-level. We find that our EMI portfolio generates positive abnormal returns since 2010 and an investment strategy of "long carbon-efficient firms and short carbon-inefficient firms" would earn abnormal returns of 3.5-5.4% per year. These carbon-efficient firms tend to be "good firms'' in terms of financial characteristics and corporate governance. Our findings are not driven by a small set of industries, variations in oil price, or changing preferences of bond investors caused by the low-interest-rate regime, starting with the 2008 financial crisis.
Keywords: Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG); Low-Carbon Investment; Asset Pricing; Carbon Efficient-Minus-Inefficient (EMI) Portfolio; Climate Finance
JEL Classification: G12; G30; P18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation