طرح های محیطی شرکت داوطلبانه و ثروت سهامداران
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|23211||2011||16 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||13331 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Volume 62, Issue 3, November 2011, Pages 430–445
Researchers debate whether environmental investments reduce firm value or actually improve financial performance. We provide some compelling evidence on shareholder wealth effects of membership in voluntary environmental programs (VEPs). Companies announcing membership in EPA's Climate Leaders, a program targeting reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, experience significantly negative abnormal stock returns. The price decline is larger in firms with poor corporate governance structures, and for high market-to-book (i.e., high growth) firms. However, firms joining Ceres, a program involving more general environmental commitments, have insignificant announcement returns, as do portfolios of industry rivals. Overall, corporate commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions appear to conflict with firm value maximization. This has important implications for policies that rely on voluntary initiatives to address climate change. Further, we find that firms facing climate-related shareholder resolutions or firms with weak corporate governance standards – giving managers the discretion to make such voluntary environmentally responsible investment decisions – are more likely to join Climate Leaders; decisions that may result in lower firm value.
A rapidly growing corporate trend in recent years is the number of companies engaged in voluntary environmentally responsible (VER) activities. These activities span a wide range, including membership in public voluntary programs that encourage pollution reductions, unilateral efforts by companies to improve their environmental performance, and the voluntary public disclosure of environmental performance measures . With this trend, a natural question is whether better environmental performance translates into better financial performance. Corporate investments in environmental technologies have traditionally been considered a drain on a firm's resources, creating an inherent conflict between environmental and financial performance (e.g.,  and ). However, others have argued that corporate environmental responsibility can actually improve financial performance. Potential gains from improved environmental performance can result from a differentiation of product (increasing customer demand and hence sales and/or margins) by signaling that the company is “green”, a reduction in the risk of future environmental liabilities and lawsuits, and a cut in production costs as a result of pollution-reducing measures  and . Moreover, improving environmental performance could spur governmental regulatory actions, giving the first-mover firms a competitive advantage once their industry rivals are forced to comply . Using an event study approach, we estimate the cumulative abnormal stock returns (CAR) for a sample of firms announcing their participation in one of two voluntary environmental programs (VEPs): the EPA's Climate Leaders (CL) program and Ceres. We find that firms announcing membership in Climate Leaders experience a significant drop in stock price (on average −1.0%). Moreover, when firms as part of the CL program subsequently announce a specific goal for the reduction of their GHG gas emissions, their stock price declines further (−1.1% on average). Thus, it seems that investors are interpreting membership in Climate Leaders and subsequent pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as imposing significant costs on the firm, leading to a decline in shareholder wealth. The firms joining Ceres, however, have insignificant estimated announcement CARs, likely due to the program's emphasis on general principles (rather than specific standards) in all environmental areas (not just climate change), making it difficult for investors to assess what membership implies for the firm's cost structure. The announcement returns are more negative for firms with governance structures that imply fewer shareholder rights. That is, the marginal effect on firm value is more dramatic when shareholders have less influence on the firm's activities. Moreover, the stock price drop is greater for firms with high market-to-book ratios, suggesting that climate investments are interpreted by investors to be more costly for high growth firms. We also analyze the valuation effect on the industry competitors of the sample firms. Industry rivals of firms joining Climate Leaders or Ceres could be negatively affected by these firms announcing their membership in these programs for a number of reasons. First, the sample firms could gain competitive advantage as first-movers in complying with expected future regulation. Second, as discussed in Reinhardt , these firms may be attempting to “manage their competitors” by engaging in environmentally responsible activities that would encourage regulation that could benefit these firms in particular. Thus, if the announcement spurs federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions that will ultimately change the cost structure of the industry, we expect a negative rival stock price reaction. Alternatively, rival firms could benefit positively from the sample firms' decision to join CL or Ceres. For example, investors could decide to sell shares of the CL firms and invest in non-CL firms, which would result in a positive return for rival firms if these purchases are anticipated (or executed) at the time of announcement and span across a sufficient number of rivals. We find, however, insignificant announcement returns for portfolios of industry rival stocks. This is consistent with the notion that the average membership in Climate Leaders or Ceres does not materially affect the cost structure of the industry. It is possible that the sample firms' environmental capital expenditures are limited by industry competitive pressures, thus reducing the competitive advantage of the firm should regulation eventually force rivals to make comparable investments. To understand why firms join the Climate Leaders program, we extend our analysis to include a cross-sectional probit model that attempts to identify factors that could explain why firms join CL, limiting our analysis to the industries represented by the sample firms. We find that the likelihood that a firm will join the Climate Leaders program increases the more hostile the firm's corporate governance structure is to shareholders and the better the firm's past environmental record. Importantly, controlling for corporate governance structure, we find that firms with a greater number of climate-related shareholder resolutions are much more likely to join Climate Leaders, similar to the findings of Reid and Toffel . The negative announcement returns coupled with the significantly positive effect of climate-related shareholder resolutions on the probability of joining Climate Leaders suggest that firms are not joining because membership adds value to the firm; rather, these firms are joining CL because of pressures from shareholder activists. As described by Darnall et al.  and Cañon-de-Francia and Garcés-Ayerbe , environmental decisions made based on institutional pressures are not likely to lead to higher financial returns. The paper is organized as follows. Section 2 reviews past empirical studies on the relationship between environmental performance and financial performance. Section 3 provides a brief description of the CL and Ceres programs, the sampling procedure and characteristics of the sample firms. Section 4 describes our event study and reports the results from cross-sectional regressions of the announcements returns. The rival firm abnormal returns are analyzed in Section 5, while Section 6 examines the decision to join Climate Leaders. Finally, Section 7 offers some concluding remarks.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Current US federal climate policy relies heavily on voluntary reductions of corporate emissions, assisted by programs such as the EPA's Climate Leaders program. The success of these voluntary programs depends on their ability to achieve meaningful company participation. Since broad corporate participation will ultimately depend on the wealth implications for shareholders, it is crucial to examine the market response to such initiatives, conveying information about whether it pays for companies to participate in these programs. Contrary to some of the earlier studies, our event study results show significant losses in the market value of firms announcing that they join Climate Leaders and at their subsequent announcement of a greenhouse gas emissions reductions goal. For companies joining Climate Leaders or announcing a greenhouse gas reduction goal, we find that the stock price decline is larger for firms with weak corporate governance structures, suggesting that managers have greater discretion to make investment decisions that may not be in the interest of shareholders. Given the significantly negative impact on stock price from Climate Leaders membership, what are some possible explanations for why firms would join? Our probit analysis shows that firms with a higher number of shareholder resolutions directed at climate change are more likely to be members of the Climate Leaders program. Controlling for these resolutions, we also find that firms with weak corporate governance structures are more likely CL members. Thus, it seems that firms are entering the Climate Leaders program despite the prospect of lowering shareholder value either because they are facing institutional pressures to do so, or because managers face less shareholder oversight, allowing them more discretion to make these types of voluntary environmentally responsible investment decisions. Our finding of a negative market response to Climate Leaders membership has important implications for the success of voluntary environmental programs and potentially for the need to regulate GHG emissions. Importantly, the results indicate that voluntary environmentally responsible investments of this kind conflict with firm value maximization. Our evidence suggests that the social costs of climate change may not be internalized by corporations. In light of such market failure, federal regulation or taxation may prove to be the only viable way to achieve a broad reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.