Using Earnings Calls to Understand the Political Behavior of Major Polluters
13 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2021
Date Written: August 16, 2021
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
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