General Electric (GE), a global, diversified corporation found that creating a GHG inventory enabled it to better identify its opportunities for emission reductions. This inventory also supported GE’s “ecomagination” business strategy by generating the data needed to set a company-wide emission reduction target.
In 2001, GE had a shareholder resolution calling on the company to report the GHG emissions from its operations and products and to consider reducing them. While the resolution was defeated, GE was already considering conducting a GHG inventory and decided to proceed with this project. GE began creating its fi rst GHG inventory in 2002 and gathered data through new tools that were included within its existing environmental compliance management systems. The company now reports its global corporate GHG emissions from sources such as energy use and makes the inventory available to the public in its annual citizenship report and on its website.
In 2005 GE’s CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, introduced “ecomagination,” which represents GE’s commitment to develop products and services with lower environmental impacts, such as energy-efficient engines, appliances, locomotives, and wind turbines. Through “ecomagination,” GE has committed to doubling its research and development investments in these technologies as well as doubling its revenues from their sale, to $20 billion by 2010. Convinced that “ecomagination” would be enhanced by GE’s making its own GHG commitments, the company used its GHG inventory to assess its reduction opportunities and to help set a reduction target. Based on its GHG inventory, the company set an absolute corporatewide target of 1 percent GHG reduction below 2004 levels by 2012, during which time the company expects signifi cant business growth. (For information about absolute and intensity targets, see Step Five: Establishing an Emission Reduction Target).
GE has created a new position of Vice President for “ecomagination” who, along with GE’s VP of Environmental Affairs, reports each quarter to the CEO on GE’s progress toward all its GHG, research, and revenue goals. In addition, GE has asked its major GHG emitting business units to draw up plans for how they will meet the 1 percent goal, creating intra- and inter-business unit competition to achieve GE’s goals. GE is now encouraging its employees to offer ideas for reducing emissions in addition to the comprehensive energy efficiency options it already has.
With ecomagination, GE is positioning itself as a global leader in a carbon-constrained world. Establishing a GHG inventory was crucial to supporting GE’s innovative approach.