WASHINGTON, D.C. — Backed by a leading environmental group, heavyweight corporate partners and a new publicity campaign, General Electric on Monday unveiled plans to double its research funds for technologies that reduce energy use, pollution and emissions tied to global warming.
The conglomerate, one of the largest in the world, also said its "ecomagination" campaign would aim to double revenues from environmentally friendly products. (MSNBC is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC, which is a GE company.)
"Ecomaginationis GE’s commitment to address challenges such as the need for cleaner, more efficient sources of energy, reduced emissions and abundant sources of clean water,” GE Chairman Jeff Immelt said in a statement announcing the initiative. "And we plan to make money doing it. Increasingly for business, ‘green’ is green."
Fuel savings cited
Reduced emissions, he noted at the unveiling at George Washington University, often translates into lower fuel costs and that benefits the customer.
Video: Analyzing GE's strategy Already a major player in renewable energy, GE said it would focus even more on solar and wind power as well as other environmental technologies it is involved with, such as diesel-electric locomotives, lower emission aircraft engines, more efficient lighting, and water purification.
Joining Immelt at the unveiling were Jonathan Lash, head of the World Resources Institute, and executives from American Electric Power, Boeing, Canadian Pacific Railway, Cinergy, Delphi and Pardee Homes.
"This is a hugely important step by one of the world's most important companies," Lash said in the statement with GE. "It is particularly encouraging that GE is focusing its research on cleaner technologies and making a serious, meaningful and accountable commitment to achieve stabilization of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change."
The Natural Resources Defense Council, which was not involved in the GE unveiling, also welcomed the move.
Ralph Cavanagh, NRDC's energy program director, called it an "important" action because GE "is the most significant actor in terms of influence and impact" on energy research and development in corporate America.
Cutting emissions at home
The goals announced by GE include:
- Investing $1.5 billion annually in cleaner technologies research by 2010, up from $700 million in 2004.
- Doubling by 2010 revenues from products and services that provide "significant and measurable environmental performance advantages to customers." Those revenues were $10 billion in 2004 and GE promised "more aggressive targets" after 2010. GE said it had identified 17 products that meet its criteria, ranging from renewable energy to water purification and cleaner transportation.
- Reducing GE's own emissions tied to global warming by one percent by 2012. GE said that given its projected growth, those emissions would have risen by 40 percent without such action.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.