Apple, Goldman Among Firms in $140 Billion Climate Pledge

(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

additional companies.

“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.

Climate Talks

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

emissions.

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.

Demonstrating Support

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

General Motors Co.

EPA Regulations

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

their opposition.

“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

climate issues.

To contact the reporter on this story:

Justin Sink in Washington at

jsink1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:

Joe Sobczyk at

jsobczyk@bloomberg.net

Larry Liebert

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