The impact of climate vulnerability on firms' cost of capital and access to finance

Gerhard Kling, Ulrich Volz* (Corresponding Author), Victor Murinde, Sibel Ayas

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article presents the first systematic investigation of the effects of climate-related vulnerability on firms’ cost of capital and access to finance and sheds light on a hitherto under-appreciated cost of climate change for climate vulnerable developing economies. We first show theoretically how climate vulnerability could affect firms’ cost of capital and access to finance. Apart from a possible impact on cost of debt and equity, which drive cost of capital, firms in countries with high exposure to climate risk might be more financially constrained. The latter results in low levels of debt relative to total assets or equity due to restricted access to finance. We then examine this issue empirically, using panel data of 15,265 firms in 71 countries over the period 1999–2017. We invoke panel data regressions and structural equation models, with firm-level data from the Thomson Reuters Eikon database and different measures of climate vulnerability based on the ND-GAIN climate vulnerability index. We construct a new climate vulnerability index and use panel instrumental variable regressions to address endogeneity problems. Our empirical findings suggest that climate vulnerability increases cost of debt directly and indirectly through its impact on restricting access to finance. However, we find limited evidence that climate vulnerability affects cost of equity. Our estimations suggest that the direct effect of climate vulnerability on the average increase in cost of debt from 1991 to 2017 has been 0.63%. In addition, the indirect effect through climate vulnerability's impact on financial leverage has contributed an additional 0.05%.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105131
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Development
Early online date25 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

We are grateful for financial support provided by the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under the Newton Fund for the research project ‘Developing financial systems to support sustainable growth in China – The role of innovation, diversity and financial regulation’ (ESRC: ES/P005241/1, NSFC: 71661137002). In addition, this research was supported by the National Social Science Fund of China (Project Number: 17ZDA071). Sibel Ayas’ research visit at SOAS University of London was supported by the Research Fellowship Programme funded by the Turkish Government.


  • Climate vulnerability
  • cost of capital
  • access to finance
  • financial exclusion
  • Access to finance
  • Cost of capital
  • Financial exclusion


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