Schumpeter: A green light

ON MARCH 20th Exxon Mobil, surely the world’s least tree-hugging company, became the first oil giant to say it would publish details of its “stranded assets”—the value of oil and gas fields that it might not be able to exploit if there were a high carbon price or tough rules on greenhouse-gas emissions. Giant Exxon is not doing this because it has gone mushy or caved in to green activists. Rather, it is heading off a shareholder resolution by Arjuna Capital, a fund manager, demanding explanations and actions on environmental threats to the firm. Exxon’s decision is the biggest step so far in a wider business trend: companies publishing information on their environmental impact and vulnerability to green regulation, to attract or placate investors.Until the late 2000s, most firms saw the environment as either irrelevant or a bit of a nuisance. Either way, they did not publish much about it. That has changed drastically. According to CDP, a group that collects environmental data on behalf of investors, more than half the companies listed on the world’s 31 largest stock exchanges publish some environmental data, either in earnings reports, as part of stockmarket…

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