Pricing climate change exposure

Abstract

We estimate the risk premium for firm-level climate change exposure among S&P 500 stocks and its time-series evolution between 2005 to 2020. Exposure reflects the attention paid by market participants in earnings calls to a firm’s climate-related risks and opportunities. When extracted from realized returns, the unconditional risk premium is insignificant but exhibits a period with a positive risk premium before the financial crisis and a steady increase thereafter. Forward-looking expected return proxies deliver an unconditionally positive risk premium, with maximum values of 0.5% to 1% p.a., depending on the proxy, between 2011 and 2014. The risk premium has been lower since 2015, especially when the expected return proxy explicitly accounts for the higher opportunities and the lower crash risks that characterize high-exposure stocks. This finding arises as the priced part of the risk premium primarily originates from uncertainty about climate-related upside opportunities. In the time series, the risk premium is negatively associated with green innovation, Big Three holdings, and ESG fund flows, and positively associated with climate change adaptation programs.

Participating Institutions

TRR 266‘s main locations are Paderborn University (Coordinating University), HU Berlin, and University of Mannheim. All three locations have been centers for accounting and tax research for many years. They are joined by researchers from LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, ESMT Berlin, Goethe University Frankfurt and Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg who share the same research agenda.