The impact of the board of directors on business climate change management: case of Brazilian companies

Abstract

The corporate sector is one of the main emitters in the world due to the production process and therefore is identified as a major contributor to climate change. In fact, the productive sector is both one of the major aggregators of the impacts of global climate change and a market actor who can play an important role in reducing, mitigating, and adapting the vulnerability of human and natural systems. The main objective of this study was to verify whether the climate change performance of Brazilian companies is influenced by the characteristics of the composition of the board of directors (BD). The performance here is measured according to company’s Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) score. The score, besides evaluating the quality and comprehensiveness of information provided on climate change mitigation strategies, evaluates the level of concrete and proactive actions, policies, and strategies adopted by companies to mitigate climate change. The study was based on the premise that climate risk management is the responsibility of the board, which is responsible for ratifying important decisions in the company. A multiple linear regression model based on data from the CDP of a sample size equivalent to 72 Brazilian companies, referring to the period among 2014 to 2018, totaling 360 observations listed on the Brazilian stock exchange showed that corporate climate management have significant and positive relationship with the size of the company’s BD, number of independent directors of the BD, Business Sustainability Index (ISE) participation, size of firm, profitability, and industry classification. The findings suggest several strategies that could be used to engage firm in climate management, among which the increase in the number of independent directors in the board composition. In other words, we have found that one of the most effective strategies of mitigation and adaptation that can inhibit or pressure companies to become involved in climate management is increasing the number of independent directors on the board of directors. This result, although based on Brazilian companies, can have implications for the rest of the world’s companies, since, regardless of country, the BD’s role remains the same, ratifying the important decisions in the organization. Therefore, proportion of the number of independent director’s increase leads to the improvement of the company’s involvement in climate issues. Thus, potential investors, for example, may require such a feature before investing in a particular company. In addition, we found that companies that strive to be part of the ISE developed by the São Paulo capital market have a higher climate performance compared to companies that are not part of it, demonstrating therefore that ISE is a key instrument to get companies to increase their concern about environmental issues, in general, and climate, in particular. Thus, as global recommendations for mitigation/adaptation strategies, capital markets around the world can also play an important role in the climate mitigation and adaptation process by creating ISE-like instruments and creating incentives for companies to strive to adhere to these instruments.

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Funding

This study was financed in part by the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES)–Brasil–Finance Code 001 and by the Foundation for Research Support of the State of Bahia–FAPESB of Brazil.

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Correspondence to Daniel Kouloukoui.

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Kouloukoui, D., Marinho, M.M.d., Gomes, S.M.d. et al. The impact of the board of directors on business climate change management: case of Brazilian companies. Mitig Adapt Strateg Glob Change 25, 127–147 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11027-019-09864-7

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Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Mitigation and adaptation strategies
  • Board of directors
  • Brazilian stock exchange
  • Business climate change strategy