Knowledge transfer


KT Webinar: COVID-19 and negative oil prices: Does this mean oil is free now?

We have invited eminent international energy economist Prof. James L. Smith to share with us on the very timely topic and unprecedented phenomenon of negative oil prices. This talk gives an overview of what negative prices mean for the oil market, how we got to this point, and the roles played by COVID-19 and OPEC.

Presentation materialCOVID-19 and negative oil prices: Does this mean oil is free now?



2019-06-25: Knowledge Transfer Forum on ESG Integration

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are keys to companies’ sustainable development and should be taken into consideration by investors when screening potential investments, according to experts at a symposium themed “ESG Investment Engagement: The Perspective of Participating CEOs”, held by the Faculty of Business and the Center for Economic Sustainability and Entrepreneurial Finance (CESEF) of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) on 25 June 2019.

Louis Cheng, Professor of Finance at PolyU’s School of Accounting and Finance and Director of CESEF, pointed out in the opening speech, that the event was aimed at improving awareness of ESG factors among companies and investors. Since 2015, ESG investing has become very popular. ESG is related to how a company performs as a steward of nature, how it manages relationships with employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where it operates, and how it deals with a company’s leadership, executive pay, audits, internal controls, and shareholder rights.

Cheng elaborated that companies adopting ESG approach would make a happier and greener society and improve shareholder value, and ESG standards are attached to a goal which is to make sustainable investing so people who are involved in the supply chain of investment should think highly of ESG factors. “Whoever cares about the society actually makes more money,” he stressed the importance of ESG criteria by addressing the idea from a report called Who Cares Wins done by a joint initiative of financial institutions invited by previous United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan to develop guidelines and recommendations on how to better integrate environmental, social and corporate governance issues in asset management, securities brokerage services and associated research functions.

Cheng added that the implementation of ESG and green finance would help companies to improve ratings by commercial data providers including Bloomberg, Morningstar and MSCI. The difference between ESG Investing and Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) was also elaborated by Cheng. He said that SRI is more related to factors including religious concerns and ethical principles, and each SRI portfolio could be independent, while ESG standards are more focused on long-term sustainability.

Mr. Simon Mak, CEO at Friends of the Earth (HK), one of Hong Kong‘s most prominent green groups, emphasized the importance of adopting ESG standards, mentioning that finance is a crucial element of driving other initiatives within the economic system and green finance approach is necessary for ensuring sustainable development. Mak said their organization has been promoting environmental philosophy through policy advocacy, corporate partnership and community engagement, and they focus on five subjects — climate and energy, waste, land use, urban forestry and green finance.

Friends of the Earth (HK), established in 1983 as a charitable organization, is a leading environmental advocate in Hong Kong and the organization has been committed to cooperating with the government, businesses and the community to create sustainable policies, business practices and community lifestyles over the past 35 years. Currently it has a membership of more than 15,000 individuals and 30 corporates. Dr. Ricky Szeto, Executive Director of Hung Fook Tong Group Holdings Limited, emphasized corporate social responsibility (CSR) and creating shared value (CSV) based on the company’s own strategies. He said that he had witnessed improvement in public awareness of CSR. Companies have been evolving from previously being defensive, charitable and promotional into the present stage of focusing on sustainable development of companies and society. Szeto believed that companies should pay more attention to such areas as corporate governance, risk management, sustainable development, green economy, company reputation and corporate culture. In terms of ESG report, he said it is critical to be factual, quantitative, consistent and balanced.

At the forum, Prof. Cheng announced CESEF’s collaboration with Friends of the Earth (HK) and Hung Fook Tong to set up “ESG Investment Education Pledge”, with the latter two parties setting aside funding within their corporate accounts up to HK$ 10 million and HK$ 2 million respectively. The pledge provides research opportunity for PolyU students to analyze ESG performance of listed firms in Hong Kong and Mainland. The research findings will be considered and adopted (if appropriate) for ESG Investment of these two organizations using the funding pledged. This initiative aims to push for sustainability through ESG investments using research from PolyU students as part of their investment processes. Such a pledge will help the School of Accounting and Finance at PolyU to educate its students about ESG and its importance, according to Cheng. Students of its Master’s programme in Financial Economics in Energy and Environment will have the opportunity to participate in research supported by the ESG Investment Education Pledge and launch their careers as specialists in one of the fastest growing niche areas in the financial industry after graduation.

Master of Finance (Financial Economics in Energy and Environment) at PolyU has been designed for degree graduates with no or little work experience to specialize in the energy and environment areas of the financial industry. The curriculum, built on solid economic and finance foundation, has incorporated up-to-date industry practices for a unique synthesis of theories and applications. As a participant of the CFA Institute University Affiliation Program, this master’s degree prepares students to sit Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) examination. For details of the programme, please visit: The symposium also invited Dr David Broadstock , Assistant Professor in PolyU’s School of Accounting and Finance and CESEF Deputy Director (Economics); Dr Eva Chan, Chairman of Hong Kong Investor Relations Association; Dr Eric Chiang, Executive Director of Investment Management Division at Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC; Dr Charles Lam, Managing Director of Real Estate at Baring Private Equity Asia; Dr Julia Wang, President at Peter F. Drucker Academy; Mr Patrick Yeung, CEO of Asian Capital Limited; and Dr Michael Wu, Chairman at Creative Asset Management Limited to be the guest speakers in the roundtable part to share their views.


2015-12-14: Presentation on Sustainability Performance by Professor Zabihollah Rezaee

The School of Accounting and Finance and Center for Economic Sustainability and Entrepreneurial Finance (CESEF) would like to cordially invite you to attend the upcoming workshop:

Cost Stickness and Sustainability Performance: Integration of Cost Management and Performance Management


Professor Zabihollah Rezaee

Thompson-Hill Chair of Excellence, PhD Coordinator,and Professor of Accountancy

Fogelman College of Business and Economics, The University of Memphis

Date: 14 December 2015 (Monday)

Time: 2:30pm-5:30pm

Venue: M714

Co-hosted by PolyU School of Accounting and Finance, and CESEF


This paper examines whether a firm’s level of cost stickiness is associated with its sustainability performance. We posit that the managerial incentives regarding the cost strategy and sustainability performance strategy are interdependent. To create firm value, management has incentives to adopt cost management practices which align the cost stickiness strategy with economic sustainability performance (ESP) and with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) sustainability performance. Using a sample of 5,565 firm-year observations during 1992-2013, we find that a firm’s level of cost stickiness is positively associated with both its ESP and ESG sustainability performance. Moreover, we find that the association between a firm’s level of cost stickiness and ESP is moderated by ESG sustainability performance. Finally, we find that the relation between cost stickiness and ESG sustainability performance is more pronounced for governance and social dimensions of non-financial sustainability performance. The results are consistent with the view that management tends to retain scarce resources when expecting improvements in overall sustainability performance. Our results present new evidence to understand how management integrates cost management strategies with various dimensions of sustainability performance decisions and thus provide policy, practical, and research implications.


Track Record of the School of Accounting and Finance in Energy Economics and Sustainability

Fung, M. K. (2014), “Ocean carriers’ collusion under antitrust immunity: Evidence of asymmetric pass-through”, Review of Industrial Organization 45 (1): 59-77. (Link)

Lam, P. L. and Shiu, A. (2004), “Efficiency and Productivity of China’s Thermal Power Generation”, Review of Industrial Organization 24 (1): 73-93. (Link)

Lam, P. L. and Shiu, A. (2011), “Reform of China’s Energy and Telecommunications Sectors”, in Matthias Fingers and Rolf W. Kunneke (eds.), International Handbook of Network Industries – The Liberalization of Infrastructures, Edward Elgar Publishers.(Link)

Lam, P. L. and Shiu. A. (2001), “A Data Envelopment Analysis of the Efficiency of China’s Thermal Power Generation”, Utilities Policy 10 (2): 75-83. (Link)

Leung, G. C. K., Li, R., and Kuhn, M. (2013), “China’s new energy security: a swing of the pendulum”, in W. Leal Filho and V. Voudouris (eds.), Global Energy Policy and Security, Springer. (Link)

Leung, G. C. K., Li, R., and Low, M. (2011), “Transitions in China’s oil economy, 1990 – 2010”, Eurasian Geography and Economics 52 (4): 483-500. (Link)

Leung, G. C. K., Li, R., and Walls, W. D. (2012), “Transitions in the Chinese market for refined petroleum products”, OPEC Energy Review 36 (3): 349-373. (Link)

Li, R. (2010), “The evolution of the international steam coal market”, International Journal of Energy Sector Management 4 (4): 519-534. (Link)

Li, R. (2010), “The role of OPEC in the world oil market”, International Journal of Business and Economics 9 (1): 83-85. (Link)

Li, R. (2011), “Energy futures prices and the US exchange rate”, Australian Economic Papers, 50 (2-3): 62-73.(Link)

Li, R. (2012), “Imperfect competition in the international coal industry – does it matter?”,Economics Bulletin 32 (3): 1821-1830.(Link)

Li, R. and Leung, G. C. K. (2011), “The integration of China into the world crude oil market since 1998”, Energy Policy 39 (9): 5159-5166.(Link)

Li, R. and Leung, G. C. K. (2012), “Coal consumption and economic growth in China”, Energy Policy 40 (1): 438-443.(Link)

Li, R. and Leung, G. C. K. (2012), “Gasoline consumption in China: a dynamic panel data analysis”, Economics Bulletin 32 (3): 2375-2382.(Link)

Li, R., Joyeux, R., and Ripple, R. D. (2010), “International steam coal market integration”,Energy Journal 31 (3): 181-202.(Link)

Li, R., Joyeux, R., and Ripple, R. D. (2014), “International natural gas market integration”,Energy Journal 35 (4).(Link)

Shiu, A. and Lam, P. L. (2004), “Electricity Consumption and Economic Growth in China”,Energy Policy 32 (1): 47-54. (Link)

Wan, K. M. and Wong, K. F. (2009), “Economic impact of political barriers to cross-border acquisitions: An empirical study of CNOOC’s unsuccessful takeover of Unocal”, Journal ofCorporate Finance 15 (4): 447-468.(Link)

Woo, C. K., Li, R., Shiu, A., and Horowitz I. (2013), “Residential Winter kWh Responsiveness under Optional Time-varying Pricing in British Columbia”, Applied Energy 108 (August): 288-297.(Link)

Woo, C. K., Shiu, A., Cheng, Y. S., Li, R., Ho, T., Chen, J., Horowitz, I., and Wang, J. (2014), “Residential Willingness-to-Pay for Reducing Coal-Fired Generation’s Emissions in Hong Kong”, The Electricity Journal 27 (3): 50-66.(Link)

Woo, C. K., Shiu, A., Ho, T., Cheng, Y. S., Horowitz, I., and Wang, J. (2014), “Residential Outage Cost Estimation: Hong Kong”, Energy Policy 72 (September): 204-210.(Link)

Woo, C. K., Zarnikau, J., Horowitz, I., and Shiu, A. (2014), “Transparency of Retail Energy Pricing: Evidence from the U.S. Natural Gas Industry”, Managerial and Decision Economics35 (4): 300-308.(Link)

Lu, H. T. and Huang, H. (2008), “Dirty Industry Migration Globally and to China − An Empirical Study”, International Review of Business Research Papers 4 (2): 27-51.(Link)

Other useful links for energy and environment-related finance, economics, accounting and law