Impact of Climate Change on Firm Earnings: Evidence from Temperature Anomalies
44 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2018 Last revised: 30 Jan 2019
Date Written: January 24, 2019
This study examines the impact of climate change on firm earnings, and how well managers anticipate the impact. Exploiting regional temperature variation around corporate headquarters, we find that firms’ earnings, on average, are negatively impacted by an unusually warm climate. In economic terms, a 1°C increase in temperature is associated with a $1.6 million decrease in earnings for a median-sized firm. In sensitivity analyses, the negative impact is also found with alternative measures of economic location (10-K text-based measure) and climate change (extreme climate index). An unusually warmer climate not only reduces sales, but also increases operating expenses and the frequency of special and extraordinary expense items. In cross-sectional analyses, we find a substantially smaller impact on firms with greater diversification and for those in industries with higher climate lobbying intensity. Firm-level regressions indicate there are some “winners” with about one-third of individual firms benefitting from a warmer climate. Finally, managers of firms which are the most susceptible to a warmer climate tend to underestimate the negative impact on earnings, and this problem is more severe in states where climate change skepticism is high.
Keywords: Climate change; Earnings performance; Management anticipation
JEL Classification: Q54, M41, G31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation