(Bloomberg) — Executives from 13 major U.S. corporations
announced at least $140 billion in new investments to decrease
their carbon footprints as part of a White House initiative to
recruit private commitments ahead of a United Nations climate-change summit later this year in Paris.
Companies including Apple Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Energy
Co., and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. joined Secretary of State John Kerry and top administration officials at the White House Monday
for the announcement. In addition to pledges to cut emissions,
provide financing to environmentally focused companies, and
reduce water consumption, the companies have said they will
produce 1,600 megawatts of new, renewable energy — enough to
power almost 1.3 million homes. The White House said it expects
to announce a second round of pledges later this fall from
“We hope this is the beginning of a substantial
mobilization effort,” Brian Deese, a senior adviser to the
president, said on a conference call with reporters.
The commitments are being announced as President Barack Obama is working to build momentum toward a legacy-defining
global climate accord in Paris. In addition to company-specific
commitments, the corporate leaders on Monday signaled their
support for a strong climate agreement out of the United Nations
talks. The administration is using the pledges to set an example
for companies to find ways to eliminate carbon emissions.
U.S. companies stepping up to cut the climate impact of
their operations “will help continue to build momentum toward
that outcome,” Deese said.
The administration’s actions are pushing the issue into the
2016 presidential debate. Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for
the Democratic nomination, released an energy strategy saying
she would both defend and go beyond Obama’s efforts. Republican
candidates have criticized the administration’s initiatives as
costly to the economy and unnecessary.
White House officials said Monday they hadn’t yet had time
to review Clinton’s proposal, but said the administration was
broadly supportive of efforts to encourage companies to reduce
Among the pledges, aluminum manufacturer Alcoa Inc. has
agreed to reduce emissions by 50 percent from its 2005 levels,
while agricultural giant Cargill Inc. says 18 percent of its
total energy use will come from renewable sources.
Kevin McKnight, the chief sustainability officer for Alcoa,
said the move was about “demonstrating the American business
community’s support” for the climate accord in Paris. The
international agreement could help “level the playing field”
for American manufacturers by requiring companies across the
world to adopt more sustainable practices, he said.
Coca-Cola Co. said it will drive down the carbon footprint
of its beverage production by 25 percent over the next five
years, while Google Inc. says it plans to triple its purchases
of renewable energy over the next decade. Berkshire Hathaway
says it plans to invest up to an additional $15 billion in the
construction and operation of renewable energy generators, while
Bank of America Corp. says it will increase its environmental
business initiative by $75 billion over the next decade,
according to the White House
Other participating firms include Wal-Mart Stores Inc,
United Parcel Service Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and
The corporate commitments won’t be the administration’s
only major climate announcement in the next few weeks. The
Environmental Protection Agency is set to present final
regulations intended to reduce carbon emissions from power
plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 later this week.
Officials from companies participating in the White House’s
pledge wouldn’t say if they planned to lobby skeptical
Republicans in Congress to support the rule — or ask business-centric organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce to drop
“Those organizations are very broad organizations and
their constituencies are very broad,” McKnight of Alcoa said.
While visiting Kenya over the weekend, Obama repeatedly
praised the country for its efforts to address climate change,
saying its effort to curb emissions “has put it in the position
of being a leader on the continent.” Next month, the president
will travel to Alaska for an international summit on Arctic
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