Paper by Patricia Breuer published in Science

The paper ‘Mandatory disclosure would reveal corporate carbon damages’ by Patricia Breuer and co-authors Michael Greenstone and Christian Leuz has been published in a recent issue of Science, the world's largest circulation general science journal. Patricia joined Erasmus School of Economics as an assistant professor in the Accounting, Auditing and Control section within the department of Business Economics in September 2023.

What might disclosure rules reveal about corporate carbon damages?

Combating climate change and global warming, which is mainly due to the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere, is one of the key challenges of our time. The costs inflicted on society from corporate GHG emissions are difficult for outside stakeholders to assess due to the lack of reliable data. Regulators have therefore proposed and introduced rules requiring companies to report on their GHG emissions, but there is wide variation across regulatory regimes and controversial debates about the merits of such disclosure mandates.

In their paper, Patricia Breuer (Erasmus School of Economics) and co-authors Michael Greenstone (University of Chicago) and Christian Leuz (University of Chicago, Booth School of Business) introduce the concept of ‘corporate carbon damages’, a measure of the costs to society associated with emissions from corporate activities. It is calculated for each company as the product of carbon dioxide (CO2)–equivalent direct emissions and the social cost of carbon (SCC)—the monetary value of the damages associated with the release of an additional metric ton of CO2. This product is divided by the company’s operating profit or sales to facilitate across-firm comparisons. The authors caution that they do not have the data to determine who bears the costs or to divide responsibility for these damages between companies and consumers.

Using information on reported and estimated emissions from nearly 15,000 publicly traded companies, the authors find that the average corporate carbon damages are large —amounting to about 44 percent of firms’ operating profits — but are highly skewed. Some firms have outsized carbon damages, and there is significant variation across industries and countries. These findings are important as they show that mandatory disclosure could help reveal the heterogeneity in corporate carbon damages, which could trigger emissions reductions due to the responses of consumers, other key stakeholders, and firms to this information. Such transparency would also provide the data regulators need to design meaningful climate policies.

About Science

Science is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious academic journals across all sciences. The journal is highly selective and publishes the very best research across diverse areas of science, such as research on human genomes and the first studies relating AIDS to human immunodeficiency virus. Articles in Science are consistently ranked among the most cited in the world.

Assistant professor
More information

Click here for the paper, ‘Mandatory disclosure would reveal corporate carbon damages’ (

For more information, please contact Media & Public Relations Officer Ronald de Groot of Erasmus School of Economics,, mobile: +31 6 53 641 846.

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