Environmental Defense Statement On GE's Ecomagination Initiative

The following statement can be attributed to Environmental Defense President, Fred Krupp, in response to General Electric CEO, Jeffery Immelt's, speech at George Washington University on May 9th.

"Today, thanks to the strong leadership of Jeff Immelt, GE becomes by far the largest corporation to commit itself to reduce and cap its worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that warm the planet. Mr. Immelt quoted the 'can do' spirit of GE's founder, Thomas Edison: 'I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent it.' Today Mr. Immelt, seeing that America needs strong and imaginative leadership on the issue of global warming, has stepped up to the plate to deliver it. He is seizing the big opportunity for U.S. businesses to put American ingenuity to work on the challenge of global warming, by committing his company to develop and market cleaner energy technologies and energy-efficient products.

"Mr. Immelt has added to the strong momentum that is growing in all sectors of America–from business leaders to bipartisan political leaders to evangelicals–calling for a responsive policy now on the crisis of climate change. He has highlighted the economic costs of congressional inaction, pointing out that U.S. companies suffer from uncertainty in national policy on global warming, while businesses elsewhere already are retooling to make what the world will soon be buying.

"Hats off to GE for putting its imagination to work on energy efficiency, because finding new efficiencies is like finding new energy. GE not only will improve its own energy efficiency by 30 percent, but also will invest heavily in developing energy-efficient products for the marketplace, from clothes washers to aircraft engines, and will market low-carbon energy technologies around the world.

"Not every company will step forward like GE to reduce and cap emissions voluntarily. So to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions overall, America needs a national cap on carbon dioxide, just like the successful cap Mr. Immelt mentioned on sulfur dioxide (which contributes to acid rain). He praised the U.S. sulfur dioxide trading system, which lets companies use whatever means are most cost-effective to achieve the cap, even by trading credits with other companies. A similar cap-and-trade approach for carbon emissions will ensure that global warming pollution is reduced with certainty and at least cost.

"A cap-and-trade policy for carbon, grounded in the traditional market principles of the American economy, represents a realistic achievable first step on global warming. It would give all players the incentive to invest in energy efficiency and low-carbon energy sources, as GE is doing. This adds a powerful business reason for passing the Climate Stewardship Act, co-sponsored by Senators McCain and Lieberman. The Climate Stewardship Act is the only pending bill on global warming that guarantees lower emissions, using the trading model favored by the Administration and Democrats alike.

"With his statement today, Jeff Immelt put the immense resources of GE to the wheel of getting America ready to address global warming. His words and GE's actions will be heeded around the world. His statement ends the talk about whether we need global warming legislation and focuses the debate on what legislation is needed. Businesses need to know the rules of the game, and only a cap-and-trade market system for carbon can ensure both a healthy economy and a healthy environment."

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