Applying an event study methodology, this research examines whether and how the stock market incorporated the key outcomes and statements from the COP26 summit into share prices. Our study is based on a sample of 7587 firms from four economic areas (EU, USA, China and India) belonging to the most carbon-intensive sectors.
The empirical evidence shows that stock market reaction depends on how country authorities respond to commitments to accelerate and scale the transition to a greener economy, confirming that the stock market reacts negatively to stringent climate policies and positively to less stringent regulations. At the same time, in sectors emitting the most pollution, investors tend to reward companies with the best/worst environmental performance according to the type of climate policies adopted, more or less strict. Since finance is expected to play a critical role in the transition to a low-carbon economy, our results have relevant policy implications by highlighting that only clearly-defined, long-term and credible climate-related policies can lead equity investors to adequately consider environmental issues.