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Climate business (2)

14 May 2005
Writing in the august pages of the Rutland Herald, Vermont state treasurer Jeb Spaulding explains why the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), a group of U.S. pension and investment funds with over $2.7 trillion in assets, has filed shareholder resolutions this year with dozens of the nation's largest U.S. companies asking them to assess the impact of climate change and new and proposed greenhouse gas regulations on their financial performance.

Spaulding writes:

New restraints also open up opportunities for developing and utilizing new clean energy technologies — markets that companies like General Electric are already seizing on for new revenues. GE is establishing itself as a world leader in wind-generated electricity — a market the company expects will triple in size worldwide over the next three years and which will generate about $2 billion in revenues for GE this year alone. GE is also investing aggressively in higher efficiency/lower emission technologies that can be incorporated in locomotives, aircraft engines, gas turbines, and other product lines.

Last year, shareholder resolutions resulted in dramatic progress. American Electric Power and Cinergy, two of the nation's largest carbon emitters, both assessed and disclosed aspects of their financial risks and exposure related to climate change and regulatory uncertainty. Also in response to shareholders, ChevronTexaco agreed to disclose its entire greenhouse gas footprint, while Valero Energy, one of the nation's biggest oil refiners, agreed to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 5 percent by 2008.

This year, investors are turning their attention to firms that have been slower to respond — ExxonMobil, Dominion Resources, and General Motors, to name a few. These companies need to tell investors, and their current shareholders in particular, just what climate change and carbon controls will mean to their bottom lines and explain what they are doing to mitigate potential costs and losses.

(full story here)

Notable that GE is the world's largest company by market capitalisation, while the combined market capitalisation in 2004 of the big three US automobile manufacturers, reliant on SUVs for growth, was less than that of one Japanese company, Toyota, whose hyper-efficient Prius is a runaway success with hard nuts like former CIA director James Woolsey.

(see also the CERES Call for Action, a 12 May article in The Economist titled Feeling the heat, plus Jim DiPeso of Green Republicans, Alden Meyer of UCS and Hot Politics Climate business (1) on openDemocracy).

CH

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