EIEE-GREEN Webinar by Thomas Lyon – 20 February 2020


Grand Challenges and Local Beliefs: How Belief in Climate Change Relates to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in U.S. Manufacturing Facilities

Presenter: Thomas P. Lyon, Dow Chair of Sustainable Science, Technology and Policy Ross School of Business School of Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan

Moderator: Elena Verdolini, Assistant Professor at Università degli Studi di Brescia and Senior Scientist at RFF-CMCC EIEE.

Greenhouse gas emissions are the leading cause of climate change: however, unfortunately, not everyone is completely convinced of this fact. This study provides the first empirical evidence on whether that degree of (dis)belief is associated with changes in firms’ behaviours. The analysis combines data from the EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP) with a survey that assesses climate change belief at the county level in the United States. It emerges that facilities located in counties with stronger climate change beliefs demonstrate greater reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over time and that this effect is amplified when their headquarters are also in counties with high belief in climate change. Moreover, the effect is substantial: by the end of the sample period, a facility in an area where only 33% of residents express climate concerns would emit 29% more greenhouse gases than a facility in an area where 69% of residents express concern. The results of this study speak to the literature on environmental performance and to strategy research on the role of community norms in influencing firm behaviour and knowledge transfer.

Short Bio

Thomas P. Lyon holds the Dow Chair of Sustainable Science, Technology and Commerce, with appointments in both the Ross School of Business and the School of Environment and Sustainability (SEAS).  Professor Lyon is a leader in using economic analysis to understand corporate environmental strategy and how it is shaped by emerging government regulations, non-governmental organizations, and consumer demands.  His book Corporate Environmentalism and Public Policy, published by Cambridge University Press, is the first rigorous economic analysis of this increasingly important topic.   Professor Lyon earned his bachelor’s degree at Princeton University and his doctorate at Stanford University.  His current research focuses on corporate environmental information disclosure, greenwash, the causes and consequences of renewable energy policy, and voluntary programs for environmental improvement.

Professor Lyon has been a visiting professor at Stanford University, the University of Paris, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Chicago and at the University of Bonn, and a Fulbright Scholar at the Scuola Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy.  He spent the academic year 2002/2003 as a Gilbert White Fellow at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC, and 2003/2004 as a visiting economist in the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Professor Lyon serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Economics and Management Strategy and the Journal of Regulatory Economics.  His teaching experience includes energy economics and policy, environmental governance, non-market strategy, regulation, managerial economics, business and government, game theory, business strategy, and the management of innovation.

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