Date of Degree

2-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Business

Advisor

Jun Wang

Committee Members

Armen Hovakimian

Karl Lang

Yao Shen

Subject Categories

Accounting | Corporate Finance | Environmental Studies

Keywords

Climate change; Carbon emissions; Earnings conference calls; Common ownership; ESG; Analyst coverage

Abstract

This dissertation consists of several chapters that span corporate disclosures on climate change-related impacts, environmental performance, common institutional ownership, and financial analyst coverage.

Chapter 1 This chapter briefly introduces this dissertation, including the motivation and structure.

Chapter 2 In this chapter, I exploit the oral and communicative nature of earnings conference calls to explore whether the discussions on climate change influence corporate environmental performance. I find strong and robust evidence that communications make firms engage more actively in environmentally beneficial investments, and thus, have better environmental profiles. Further evidence shows that mandatory disclosure may unexpectedly crowd out communications, and this leads to poorer performance of affected firms. Overall, this chapter documents that climate change-related communications act a crucial and unique role in affecting corporate environmental behaviors, and has important policy implications on how to mandate ESG disclosures.

Chapter 3 (joint with Qiang Ji and Dayong Zhang) In this chapter, we examine whether common institutional ownership fosters collaboration among firms within the same industry in mitigating climate change, or reducing carbon emissions. We obtain strong and robust evidence that firms with more industry peers that are commonly owned by institutional investors have lower carbon emissions. In addition, we find a threshold exists that the impact on carbon emissions only holds when firms are commonly connected with a substantial number of peers. Overall, our results highlight the role played by institutional investors in tackling climate issues, with important implications for both climate- and antitrust-related regulations.

Chapter 4 In this chapter, I examine the effect of financial analysts on corporate awareness and disclosure on climate change. I find evidence that a higher level of analyst coverage leads to more climate change-related discussions during corporate earnings conference calls. By employing a quasi-experiment, I identify that this relation is causal. Consistent with survey evidence from Stroebel and Wurgler (2021) that regulatory and physical risks are the top climate concerns, I show that analysts have impacts predominantly on regulatory and physical climate change exposure. I also document that firms have better ESG performance following greater climate change exposure caused by analyst coverage. Overall, this chapter highlights the critical role of financial analysts in reducing information asymmetry between firms and investors.

Chapter 5 This chapter briefly summarizes the findings and concludes this dissertation.

This work is embargoed and will be available for download on Thursday, February 01, 2024

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