Environmental information disclosure (EID), a typical informal environmental regulation with third-party participation, has been attracting much attention as to how effective it is in controlling pollution and saving energy. Yet little existing research has explored how to improve corporate energy efficiency (EE) from the perspective of informal environmental regulation. The paper show that EID can not only reduce pollution, but also significantly improve corporate EE, especially for exporting, large-scale, non-state-owned and growing firms. The results are robust after a series of robustness checks. The authors further discuss plausible mechanism for the effect of EID on corporate EE: improving energy structure, increasing investment efficiency, and inhibiting innovation of firms in polluting industries, which is essentially a trade-off between EE improvement effect and EE reduction effect, and the EE improvement effect clearly prevail. In addition, government environmental regulation has positive moderating effect on the causal relationship between EID and EE of low-energy firms. However, the energy efficiency improvement effect of EID on high-energy firms is negatively moderated by government environmental regulations. This study provides new ideas for environmental governance in emerging countries through a rational balance of informal and formal environmental regulation.
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