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Harjap Bassan, Kartick Gupta and Ron P. McIver

In this chapter we examine inter-industry and intra-industry (country-level) differences to firm-level returns from engaging in environmentally sustainable practices. Differences in environmental impact and public attention suggest market rewards for undertaking environmentally sustainable practices may differ by industry. An uneven global distribution of activity by industry, and country concentration of industry sectors, imply country-level differences may influence rewards from and incentives to engage in these practices. Using a fixed-effects panel data regression model, we analyze firm-level environmental performance indices constructed from environmental indicators in Thomson Reuters’ Asset4 CSR dataset. Data cover 45 countries from 2002 to 2013. We find statistically significant negative relationships between firm-level environmental performance and stock returns in the consumer services, financials, oil and gas, and utilities sectors. At the country level we identify a statistically significant negative relationship between high levels of institutional quality – i.e. government effectiveness, regulatory quality, rule of law, corruption control, and accountability – and stock returns in the consumer goods and oil and gas sectors. For the highly regulated financial and utilities sectors, we find a statistically significant negative relationship between low levels of institutional quality for a sub-set of institutional quality factors and stock returns. For other sectors effects are limited or statistically insignificant.