Using Earnings Calls to Understand the Political Behavior of Major Polluters

13 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2021

See all articles by Paasha Mahdavi

Paasha Mahdavi

University of California Santa Barbara - Dept of Political Science

Jessica F. Green

University of Toronto - Department of Political Science

Jennifer Hadden

University of Maryland - College Park

Thomas Hale

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government

Date Written: August 16, 2021

Abstract

The role that private actors play in accelerating or preventing progressive climate policy and true decarbonization is a core research interest of global environmental politics. Yet scholars have struggled to measure the political behavior of multinational firms due to lack of transparency about their activities and inconsistency in reporting requirements across jurisdictions. In this research note, we present a new data source – firm earnings calls – that scholars might use to better understand the political behavior of major multinational polluters. To illustrate the value of earnings calls as a data source, we construct an original dataset of all earnings calls from major oil and gas firms between 2005 and 2019. We then code these transcripts, demonstrating that although firms can be classified as more or less pro-climate, there is little evidence of the industry’s public acceptance of decarbonization. These unique data could permit researchers to explore important questions about climate politics, the evolution of private governance, and the relationship between policy and firm political behavior. Moreover, we suggest extensions of our approach, including other multinational industries that are amenable to this type of analysis.

Keywords: Decarbonization, oil and gas firms, firm political behavior, lobbying, earnings calls, private governance

Suggested Citation

Mahdavi, Paasha and Green, Jessica F. and Hadden, Jennifer and Hale, Thomas, Using Earnings Calls to Understand the Political Behavior of Major Polluters (August 16, 2021). Global Environmental Politics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3906148

Paasha Mahdavi (Contact Author)

University of California Santa Barbara - Dept of Political Science ( email )

Ellison 3807
Mail Code: 9420
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.paashamahdavi.com

Jessica F. Green

University of Toronto - Department of Political Science ( email )

Sidney Smith Hall
100 St George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G3
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://https://green.faculty.politics.utoronto.ca/

Jennifer Hadden

University of Maryland - College Park ( email )

College Park, MD 20742
United States

Thomas Hale

University of Oxford - Blavatnik School of Government ( email )

10 Merton St
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4JJ
United Kingdom

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