How Credible are Firms’ Voluntary Climate Commitments? An Empirical Analysis of Corporate Climate Action


More and more firms have been making public commitments to voluntarily reduce their carbon footprints. However, how credible such announcements are remains uncertain. This project's central aim is therefore to--theoretically and empirically--study the conditions under which firms' voluntary commitments are likely to translate into sustained, corporate climate action rather than empty promises of greenwashing. Building on rich CO2 emissions data for 3,500 firms over ten years (2010-2019) from the Carbon Disclosure project, an annual firm survey, we will use firms' responses to past carbon regulation to identify firm-level attributes that can then be used to classify firms into distinct groups of likely future behaviours. This innovative empirical strategy allows us to assess the credibility of firms' climate pledges today, even though only the future can tell whether firms will keep their promises. The project contributes to the literature on corporate climate action in national and international climate politics.

Funder: British Academy
Funding period: 1 May 2022-31 July 2023
Funder reference: SG2122\210041