Alcoa officials say the company’s climate pledge includes reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions through improved processes, technology, and energy efficiency at aluminum smelters, such as the Wenatchee, Wash., facility, pictured here. Worldwide, Alcoa smelters cut their CO2 emissions by 6.8% last year, compared with levels from 2013, the company said. Credit: Courtesy Alcoa

Thirteen of the biggest companies in the United States have signed on to a new initiative by President Obama to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the White House announced Monday.

The companies—which reported more than $1.3 trillion in revenue in 2014—committed to a total of at least $140 billion in new low-carbon investments, more than 1600 megawatts of new renewable energy, and other measures at the launch of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.

The companies also voiced support for a strong outcome at the international climate conference in Paris later this year. The aim of that meeting, which will take place from 30 November to 11 December, is for thousands of delegates from nations and organizations worldwide to reach a legally binding agreement on climate change to prevent global warming of more than 2°C.

More Businesses Expected to Sign On

The White House hopes that the company pledges unveiled Monday are the beginning of a substantial mobilization effort.

Brian Deese, senior advisor to the president, praised the companies for “setting an example” for their industries. The White House hopes that the company pledges unveiled Monday are “the beginning of a substantial mobilization effort,” he added.

The administration intends to announce a second round of pledges “from a far broader spectrum of American companies” later this year, prior to the Paris conference, Deese said.

Pledges to Cut Greenhouse Gas Emissions

“We think that it’s critical that the business community get behind government.”

Among the companies’ commitments, Alcoa pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% in the United States by 2025, compared with a 2005 baseline. Kevin McKnight, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said that manufacturing lighter and stronger components for products such as pickup trucks also would help to save energy.

“We think Paris is a big deal. We think that it’s critical that the business community get behind government,” McKnight said. He called for using the Paris meeting “to really move the world in a different direction.”

Microsoft’s commitment includes purchasing 100% renewable energy to operate its data and manufacturing centers and other facilities, according to Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s chief environmental strategist. “We are committed to carbon neutrality,” he said.

Other companies that signed on to the climate pledge are Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Coca-Cola, Goldman Sachs, Google, PepsiCo, UPS, and Walmart.

—Randy Showstack, Staff Writer

Citation: Showstack, R. (2015), Leading companies take White House climate pledge, Eos, 96, doi:10.1029/2015EO033475. Published on 28 July 2015.

Text © 2015. The authors. CC BY-NC 3.0
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