For the past month, much of our attention has been focused on Washington DC and the two infrastructure bills being considered by Congress. 15 years ago we needed the government to play a catalyst role in motivating climate solutions. Without leadership, incentives and subsidies, there was no interest.
Today consumers are driving the agenda. Surveys show significant changes in consumer attitudes and the majority want action on climate change. And a recent Harvard Business Review article shows that consumer demands for disclosure and investments in greener stocks are driving company valuations and stock returns.
The investor story has two parts: First, investors demand disclosures from companies. We don’t have a regulatory standard yet, so there is a clear path between activist investors and increased disclosures.
Second, what happens to the stock price when the disclosures are made? After all, a company could be revealing information that is worse than previously expected. But the study finds that disclosures increase the stock price on average. Empirically, there is a 1% stock price gain in the 10 days after the disclosure.
Bottom line: Consumers, not Washington DC, are driving the climate change conversation today, creating a clear connection between climate change disclosures and company value.
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