General Electric Succumbs to Climate-Deniers

We received an email titled, Leading Free-Market
Activists Score Major Concession on Global Warming.

The email comes from the National Center for Public Policy Research, which is congratulating itself for convincing General Electric (GE) to never again initiate projects for the purpose of controlling carbon emissions. 

Why? Because they might spend money that takes away from maximum corporate profits.

Touting themselves as "free market" defenders, they have spent years going to shareholder meetings, conducting media campaigns and protests to get GE to stop "green energy cheerleading."

"For years, GE has been the poster boy for crony capitalism and corporate America’s green energy cheerleader. Now, GE
shareholders have confirmation that the company’s strategies will henceforth be led by true market forces and not by blind adherence to global warming zealotry," says Justin Danhof, director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project.

What’s the crony capitalism? The fact that GE, along with 6000 corporations, have pushed President Obama (and Bush before him) to address climate change by emphasizing renewable energy and passing national climate change legislation. 

That, by the way, benefits GE as it vies for the position of the world’s leading wind turbine manufacturer.

Wind Turbine GE

Last year, the group managed to get GE’s Board of Directors to revise its Corporate Social Responsibility policy so that the company can’t "undertake any energy savings or sustainability project for the sole goal of seeking carbon dioxide emissions reductions due to climate change concerns, except as required by law."

At GE’s 2011 shareholder
meeting, the group tried to oust CEO Jeff Immelt because he supported national cap-and-trade legislation, President Obama’s stimulus bill (Recovery Act) and national health care legislation. They also gave GE a lashing because it supported phasing out inefficient light bulbs, "which
was pushed on the public as an
anti-global warming measure."

Since GE makes light bulbs, it materially benefits from the move to more efficient lighting.

Light Bulb GE

"For the past quarter-century, government and corporate efforts have plowed
billions into the promotion and exploitation of the human-caused catastrophic
global warming theory," says Amy Ridenour, Chair of the National Center for
Public Policy Research. "The result has been higher taxes, greater deficits,
higher prices, job loss and greater government control over our daily lives –
all in service of a theory based on computer models that are not coming true.

Yes, they blame all of that on the so-far feeble attempts to address climate change.

"More and more people around the world are waking up to the fact that the global
warming theory is about hot air, all right, but that a startlingly high
percentage of that hot air is coming from people pushing the theory, not
hardworking people going about their daily business. Slowly but surely, the
expensive, job-killing and liberty-encroaching global warming leviathan is
being defeated. We commend General Electric for taking this step and encourage
other corporations to follow its lead," Ridenour says.

Last year, the National Center’s Free Enterprise Project
attended 33 shareholder meetings to advance their free-market ideals in
health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, media
bias, gun rights and many more important public policy issues, they say.

Because of "free-market, independent conservative think-tanks" like this, even conglomerates like GE feel hamstrung on taking positions and strong action on climate change.

GE is among a slew of major companies that already include a carbon tax in their financial projections. How will that be affected by this change of policy?

Will they go after the 33 corporations that sent a "Climate Declaration" to Congress, urging them to take action on climate change? They want a "bold response" and see it as one of the greatest American economic opportunities of the 21st century.

Meanwhile, GE announced it will invest another $10 million in its Ecomagination initiative, bringing the total to $25 million over the next seven years. So far, the initiative has cut GE’s greenhouse gas emissions 34% since 2004 and fresh water use 47% since 2006, the company says, while bringing in $160 billion in revenue.

"Ecomagination is one of our most successful cross-company business initiatives. Bold investments in ecomagination research and development have resulted in strong returns for shareholders and improved cost and emissions savings for our customers," says CEO Jeff Immelt.

GE says its new goals are to develop technologies that replace water in fracking (potentially using captured CO2 instead); capture flared gas from fracking; produce less expensive wind turbines; and develop ways to increase power plant efficiency.

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