At the “Two Sessions” in 2021, “Emission Peak” and “Carbon Neutrality” were written into the Chinese government work report for the first time. China strives to reach the peak of carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. To achieve these dual goals, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests China should increase its timeframe and strengthen environmental regulations on carbon emission (Pike, 2021). China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) has revised the guideline for the content and format of information disclosure by a listed corporation in 2021, and added new chapters on environmental and social responsibility. The guideline also encouraged corporations to voluntarily disclose carbon emissions information. Carbon emission information disclosure shows carbon dioxide generated in the production process and reveals the standard of environmental management. In addition, it also depicts the degree to which corporations are undertaking their social responsibility and their technological sophistication.
Enterprise value is the market evaluation value of tangible assets and intangible assets of the corporations. Enterprise value not only reflects the time value and risk of corporate funds, but also the sustainable development ability of corporations. The enterprise value would be indirectly affected by the carbon emission information disclosure. This is because carbon information disclosure would influence the decision and behavior of corporate stakeholders such as the government, management, employees, investors, creditors, customers, etc., and these stakeholders would influence the enterprise’s future and present financial health as well as the prospect of corporate development (Yang and Qiao, 2021).
At present, scholars have carried out in-depth research on the impact of carbon emission information disclosure on enterprise value. Some scholars have stated that enterprise carbon information disclosure has played a positive role in promoting enterprise value. The disclosure of carbon information helps to reduce environmental risk costs (Hassl et al., 2005), obtain extensive attention from the capital market (Li et al., 2017), and also enhance the enthusiasm of consumers and investors. It not only enhances the reputation and trust of corporations but also obtains the support of government policies (Zha et al., 2021). Grigoris et al. (2017) thought carbon emission disclosure improves enterprise performance, thereby encouraging corporations to disclose their carbon emission information. Some scholars thought that there is no correlation between carbon information disclosure and enterprise value. Jiang (2010) and Wang (2013) found no significant correlation between carbon information disclosure and the enterprise value of listed corporations that disclose carbon emission information voluntarily in China. Alsaifi (2021) found that the carbon emission disclosure behavior could not enhance enterprise value in the UK and stated that the relationship between carbon emission disclosure behavior and corporate performance is not significant. On the contrary, some scholars found a negative correlation between environmental information disclosure and enterprise value. Shane (1983), Susmita (2001) and Murray (2006) found that environmental information disclosure is negatively related to enterprise financial performance. It has led to an increase in environmental investment costs (Murray et al., 2006) and a decrease in enterprise income and enterprise value (Sutantopura et al., 2012).
When implementing carbon emission discourse, the gatekeepers decide what information should be made public. The gatekeepers are the decision-makers who influence the carbon emission disclose to the public based on personal or social influences. Through this process, the sensitive and controversial information is removed by the gatekeeper, which helps to control the carbon emission discourse. As shown in Figure 1, the government, corporation and media are the gatekeepers (Rusche et al., 2021).
The government establishes the content, format and requirement of the carbon information disclosure to manage the environmental regulation. The corporations can selectively disclose the carbon information and decide the quality of the information to maintain company image. The media could expand or shrink the business influence of disclosing carbon information by appraising the carbon information. Therefore, the content, quality, and influence of the disclosure information are decided by the three gatekeepers.
The disclosure of carbon emission data is a response to the demand of various stakeholders for making the market decision. It not only reduces information asymmetry between stakeholders and corporations, but also makes an impact on the future value-added ability, business risk, enterprise strategy and enterprise duration. The internal stakeholders of the enterprise such as investors, senior executives, and employees would carry out structural reform to increase research investment, improve production efficiency, reduce resource consumption and environmental pollution, adopt advanced technology and equipment, and promote the competitiveness of corporations in the market. The external stakeholders, such as the government, consumers, suppliers, creditors, and the public, could broaden the information exchange channel with enterprises and further increase the opportunities of the investment on enterprises. Furthermore, the change of the corporation value will further affect the gatekeepers’ trust in the enterprise. This leads to the gatekeepers further influencing the enterprise information disclosure, and then affect the competitiveness as well as business performance of corporations. However, how the disclosure of enterprise carbon emission information affects the enterprise value under the influence of gatekeepers is a complex process that requires answering difficult theoretical and practical research questions. Under the heterogeneity of ownership structure, the different performances of corporations have important theoretical and practical significance for formulating policies to promote the green development of corporations and reduction of carbon emission.
In terms of the influence of government, Dension (1986) and Gray (1987) found that the implementation of government environmental regulation policies led to a decline in the production efficiency of corporations. Klaus (1996) and Gale (1999) proposed that government environmental regulation did not correlate with enterprise value. While Porter (1991) found that environmental regulation policies could stimulate technological innovation of corporations, improve production efficiency, and thus improve enterprise value.
In terms of the influence of media, some scholars found that media evaluation played a linear positive role in regulating enterprise value. Media, as an important external supervision mechanism of enterprise carbon information disclosure, could encourage corporations to make more active environmental management behaviors (Aerts and Cormier, 2009), increase R&D innovation of corporations and improve the efficiency of companies (Joe et al., 2007). Moreover, with additional focus by the media on corporations, the level of enterprise information disclosure by companies is enhanced (Bloomfield and Wilks, 2001) which reduces the information asymmetry (Bushee et al., 2010). Therefore, the trust and recognition of external investors and media to corporations would increase and enhance enterprise value (Liao and Welford, 2020). However, Wen (2017) stated that media evaluation did not play a linear regulatory role in the relationship between carbon information disclosure and enterprise value, but played an “inverted U-shaped” regulatory role. Lyon and Montgomery (2013) found that media evaluation forced corporations to face greater social pressure, which pressures them to disclose less carbon emission information. This leads to making wrong decisions that lowers enterprise performance and value.
In terms of the influence of corporation, corporate carbon emission disclosure could help corporations accumulate reputation capital (Jeong et al., 2020), reduce enterprise production costs (Yu et al., 2019), and influence enterprise decision-making behavior (Kothari et al., 2009). Thus, it would improve enterprise value (Rao, 2016; Yang, 2009). However, the level of carbon emission disclosure of corporations should be consistent with the life cycle of corporations, otherwise, the corporate image would be damaged or the management cost would be too high, leading to reducing the enterprise value (Horvathova, 2010).
In summary, the existing studies have researched the impact of carbon information disclosure and enterprise value from different perspectives. However, there are several topics worthy of further discussion. Firstly, the effects of carbon emission disclosure on the value of different corporations show various characteristics. Furthermore, the world’s greenhouse gas emissions mainly come from heavily polluting corporations. As a result, this paper chooses Chinese heavily polluting corporations as the research subject to explore how the regulatory characteristics of different factors influence state-owned corporations and private corporations. Secondly, when studying regulatory factors, most scholars choose only one of the gatekeepers to explore its moderating influence on the relationship between carbon information disclosure and enterprise value (Rupley, 2012, Zha, 2021, Song et al., 2019, Wen and Zhou, 2017, Rubashkina, 2015, Jeong et al., 2020). However, the government management, enterprise operation, and media evaluation are the gatekeepers of the carbon emission information disclosure that operate as a system. Therefore, it is necessary to explore the moderating effect of these gatekeepers together. Thirdly, Zha (2021) used ROA (Return on Total Assets) to measure the short-term value of the enterprise, Lioui (2012) and Song (2019) used Tobin Q value to measure the long-term value of the enterprise. However, ROA reflects the margin profit generated by the rights of shareholder and funds of creditor, and the future vested interests of the enterprise, and Tobin Q value reflects the relationship between equity value and replacement cost, which is an indicator of enterprise investment value. Therefore, ROA and Tobin Q value cannot truly reflect the short-term value and long-term value of the enterprise. ROE (Return on Equity) reflects the profit rate generated by the funds invested by shareholders, the return rate of shareholders’ equity investment, the company’s earning ability and the company’s fundamental situation and short-term profitability, therefore, it is used to measure the short-term value of the enterprise. Furthermore, ROA is an indicator to measure the net profit per unit of assets, reflecting the shareholders’ and creditors’ vested interests and future cash inflow, and the future potential profitability of corporations. Therefore, this paper uses ROE as an indicator to measure the short-term value of corporations and ROA as an indicator to measure their long-term value. In addition, this paper explores the impact of carbon information disclosure on enterprise value and the characteristics of moderating effects of government environmental regulation, corporate image and media evaluation in the short-term and long-term.
The rest of this research article is organized as follows. Section two proposes the research hypothesis of the influence of carbon emission information disclosure on enterprise value. Section three establishes the model. In Section four the results are presented. Section five discusses the impact of carbon information disclosure on the value of corporations with different ownership structures from the short-term and long-term perspectives. Section six summarizes and concludes the paper.