Yesterday marked the launch of the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, uniting 13 of the largest U.S. companies in pledging a collective $140 billion of low-carbon investments in the global economy and over 1,600 MW of new renewable energy. The high-profile pledge is the latest indicator that the White House is succeeding in its effort to garner private-sector support for a substantive climate agreement at COP21.
Participating companies included technology giants Apple, Google and Microsoft, beverage brands Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, and major retailer Walmart. Alcoa, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Goldman Sachs and UPS also signed on. Together these companies represent $1.3 trillion in revenue and a combined market capitalization of at least $2.5 trillion.
According to a White House press release, these companies committed to three main actions in signing the pledge:
1. Voicing support for a strong Paris outcome.
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2. Demonstrating an ongoing commitment to climate action
Several companies announced new commitments yesterday to reducing their emissions, increasing low-carbon investments, and deploying more clean energy.
3. Setting an example for their peers.
This fall, the Obama Administration will release a second round of pledges with a goal to mobilize more companies to join the pledge.
New commitments by specific companies include Google’s pledge to triple its purchases of renewable energy over the next decade, and Apple’s pledge to bring nearly 300 MW of renewable energy online in five states and China’s Sichuan province.
"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," Google CEO Eric Schmidt wrote in a company blog post about the pledge.
Berkshire Hathaway said it will retire 75 percent of its coal-fueled generating capacity in Nevada by 2019, and Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both vowed to reduce the carbon footprint of their businesses.
Among the boldest of new action announced yesterday, Bank of America committed to expand its environmental business initiative from $50 billion to $125 billion by 2025.
While these commitments symbolize private-sector support for climate action and represent billions of dollars in green financing, strong regulation is also necessary, according to Mindy Lubber, president of environmental investor group Ceres, whose Climate Declaration has been signed by over 1,200 leading US businesses in the past two years.
"Voluntary commitments alone will not get us the meaningful reductions we need," she said. "Strong carbon-reducing policies are hugely important."