Green -- Up to a point

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

From an article by Ben Elgin posted on the Web site of Business Week:

When 10 of the largest U.S. corporations and four environmental groups joined forces last January to lobby for federal regulations to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions, it was seen as a watershed in corporate environmentalism. The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), comprising 27 companies from General Electric (GE) to General Motors (GM), won praise from enviros by endorsing cuts—10% to 30% of heat-trapping emissions within 15 years and 60% to 80% by 2050—to avert some of the severest consequences of global warming.

Behind the scenes, however, several companies that belong to USCAP are simultaneously supporting efforts and organizations that oppose mandatory cuts in greenhouse gases or promote policies that would make the USCAP reductions nearly impossible to meet. "Many of these companies want the image of being green but are putting their money on the other side of the issue," says Frank O'Donnell, president of Washington-based Clean Air Watch.

Divided Loyalties
Three high-profile USCAP members—General Electric, Caterpillar (CAT), and Alcoa (AA)—also sit on the board of the Center for Energy & Economic Development (CEED), an Alexandria (Va.) group formed in 1992 that opposes regulations on greenhouse-gas emissions. In April, 2007, CEED's board unanimously signed a position paper that, in part, described as "draconian" one federal climate bill that would require a 65% reduction in emissions by 2050.