Shareholders and the environment: a review of four decades of academic research

Gunther Capelle-Blancard*, Adrien Desroziers, Bert Scholtens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


We provide a synthesis of four decades of empirical research regarding the reaction of shareholders to environmental events. This literature is at the crossroads of finance, environmental economics, management and corporate social responsibility (CSR). To set the stage, we first provide an account of the Brumadinho ecological disaster that occurred in Brazil on January 25th, 2019. Second, we provide a critical review of more than 100 event studies. These papers cover a diverse set of events, such as industrial accidents, public disclosure programs, legal actions following environmental violations, changes in environmental regulation, environmental news, and corporate initiatives. This review makes four contributions. First is the synthesis of a large strand of literature in a structured setting, so as to be readily handled by both experts and non-experts. Second is the observation that stock market penalties in the event of environmental concerns are likely to be quite low: on average there is a (temporary) drop in the excess stock market return to events that are harmful to the environment of about 2% and the median is −0.6%. Third is to highlight the limits of CSR as a business strategy towards a sustainable society. Fourth is to provide an open access bibliographic database.
Original languageEnglish
Article number123005
Number of pages41
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2021


  • Topical Review
  • CSR
  • Industrial accidents
  • Public disclosure
  • Lawsuits
  • ESG news
  • Policy
  • Event study


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