University of Leicester
2017BenjaminLPhD.pdf (1.88 MB)

Energy companies and climate change: towards a greener corporate objective?

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posted on 2017-11-06, 15:48 authored by Lisa Rebecca Benjamin
Energy companies are major contributors to climate change, yet have very few legal obligations to reduce emissions from their operations. As a result, it is likely that further regulation of corporate emissions will have to be developed to deal with climate change. This Thesis aims to determine whether existing mechanisms dealing with corporate emissions are adequate, and, if they are not, what would be the best mechanism(s) to mediate companies’ contributions to climate change. A selection of five sets of mechanisms will be analysed; internal corporate norms, company law, climate change and energy regulation, ‘non-legal’ mechanisms, such as voluntary codes of conduct and market mechanisms, and finally, ‘decentred’ regulatory efforts. This Thesis will focus on the English regulatory environment and related international regulation, and examine a selection of English energy companies’ sustainability reports. This Thesis will test the ideas of what these five mechanisms currently require of companies, particularly carbon-major energy companies. It will look at whether these requirements are enforceable, whether there is compliance with them, and finally, are whether these requirements are sufficient to meet the looming climate crisis. If these mechanisms are not adequate, this Thesis will suggest how companies can evolve towards a more principled approach of dealing with climate change, one that is effective, practical and achievable. Some of the main findings of the Thesis are that the shareholder wealth maximisation norm is subverting the efficacy of environmental regulation on climate change, and disincentivising carbon-major companies from reducing their emissions and transitioning away from fossil fuels. As a result, some reflections are provided on potential ways forward that would involve requirements for energy companies to more actively report and reduce greenhouse gases.



Andreadakis, Stelios; Yeung, Horace

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Law

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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