Google, Apple among titans taking White House climate pledge

Google, Apple among titans
taking White House climate pledge

multinationals commit to ambitious goals as global momentum appears to grow for meaningful climate action

by ROB McMANAMY and MIKE HRYMAK | Jul 27, 2015

While Congress struggles this summer with yet another transportation reauthorization bill, the Obama Administration and more than a dozen Fortune 500 companies have jointly launched an aggressive public-private initiative to address climate change. The effort could spur more than $140 billion in new low-carbon investment and help generate over 1,600 Mw of new, renewable energy.

On Monday at the White House, with President Obama still traveling, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted representatives from 13 of the largest U.S. companies to sign the American Business Act on Climate Pledge. The companies that signed are AlcoaAppleBank of AmericaBerkshire Hathaway EnergyCargillCoca-ColaGeneral MotorsGoldman SachsGoogleMicrosoftPepsiCoUPS and Walmart. Collectively, the group reported $1.3 trillion in 2014 revenue. Their individual company-specific goals include cutting emissions by as much as 50%, reducing water intensity by up to 15%, purchasing 100% renewable energy (Apple already claims to have achieved this), and pursuing net-zero deforestation in supply chains.

The White House said it will also release a second round of pledges this fall, aiming to mobilize many more U.S. companies to join the effort ahead of a global summit in France later this year. 

"Today's announcements are only the beginning," read the White House Fact Sheet released this morning. "As the world looks toward global climate negotiations in Paris this December, American leadership at all levels will be essential... When fully implemented, (the President's Climate Action Plan) will cut nearly six billion tons of carbon pollution through 2030, an amount equivalent to taking all the cars in the U.S. off the road for more than four years."

The statement also noted that "hundreds of private companies, local governments, and foundations [already] have stepped up to increase energy efficiencyboost low-carbon investing, and make solar energy more accessible to low-income Americans."

Below is the wording for the pledge that the above companies signed today:



We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future. 

We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.  

We put forth our pledges as follows... 

For the individual corporate commitments, click here.


In a separate statement, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt today said: "Google has been carbon neutral since 2007. Our data centers, the physical infrastructure behind web services used by billions of people, now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of electricity, as compared to five years ago."

Noting that the search engine giant is also "the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable power on the planet," Schmidt went on to issue a challenge to legislators around the globe. "We’re making progress, but averting catastrophic climate change will require significant investment and bold innovations. Google and our private-sector peers are ready to lead. But something fundamental is required: clear policy. The global business community needs certainty to bring climate solutions to scale. We need the world’s political leaders to confirm that investments in clean energy are sound, and that the laws and policies meant to enable such investment will be designed for the long term and rooted in what science tells us needs to be done."

We need... political leaders to confirm that investments in clean energy are sound, and that the laws and policies... will be designed for the long term and rooted in what science tells us needs to be done
— Eric Schmidt, Google Executive Chairman

Meanwhile, in other climate news 

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) later this week is expected to announce its final regulations for reducing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. The mandate will likely require plants to cut the 2005 levels of emissions by 30% before 2030; 
  • On Aug. 1, the Chicago Energy Benchmarking ordinance will go into effect, requiring commercial and municipal buildings larger than 50,000 sq ft and residential buildings larger than 250,000 sq ft to be in compliance with new energy use mandates;
  • On July 24, ahead of the above deadline and in response to Pope Francis' expansive June encyclical on climate change and environmental stewardship, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago held a joint press conference with USEPA Administrator Gina Murphy. Stressing that climate action is a "moral issue," Archbishop Blase Cupich said that the Archdiocese, which is the city's largest property owner, would begin benchmarking its stock of 2,700 buildings to collect big data on energy usage, sustainability and potential opportunities to save electricity, water, and other utility costs.

For the full joint press conference, see below... 

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