ESG: A New Dimension in Portfolio Allocation
37 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2020
Date Written: October 16, 2020
In this paper, we examine the impact of including environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria in the allocation of equity portfolios. We focus on the risk and return characteristics of the resulting ESG portfolios and investment strategies. Two specific measures are considered to quantify the ESG performance of a company; the ESG rating and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emission intensity. For both measures, we carry out empirical portfolio analyses with assets in either the STOXX Europe 600 or the Russell 1000 index. The ESG rating data analysis does not provide clear-cut evidence for enhanced performance of portfolios with either high or low ESG scores. We moreover illustrate that the choice of rating agency has a significant impact on the performance of the resulting ESG-constrained portfolios. Secondly, we study the impact of GHG emission reductions and increases. We show that emission reductions do not necessarily lead to increased risk or diminished returns, which gives confidence in a smooth transition towards the green economy pursued by the European Green Deal.
Keywords: ESG, portfolio allocation, investment strategies, ESG ratings, greenhouse gas intensity
JEL Classification: G11, Q50
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