How Fortune 100 Companies Lower Emissions

Jan. 24, 2013
Success and obstacles facing forward-thinking companies.

Many of the world’s largest businesses aren’t waiting on government incentives to embrace renewable energy and lower emissions. Top organizations are voluntarily making significant progress on climate change, finds a new report from Calvert Investments, Ceres, and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Clean energy practices are becoming standard procedures for companies such as AT&T, DuPont, General Motors, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Proctor & Gamble, Sprint, BP, and Wal-Mart. Among the 173 companies in the Fortune 100 and Global 100 market surveyed, 56% have made GHG reduction goals and 13% have set specific goals for renewable energy use.

Many companies are also shifting from purchasing short-term, temporary Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to longer-term investment strategies like Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and on-site projects, indicating a long-term commitment to renewable energy and reaping the benefits of reduced price volatility.

“These companies are expanding their use of renewable energy because it makes good business sense – they see the value in diversifying their energy supply, mitigating fuel cost risk, cutting their energy-related emissions, and, in some cases, providing a physical asset with real value for the enterprise,” says Bennett Freeman, Calvert’s senior vice president for sustainability research and policy.

Despite tremendous progress, some companies identified several barriers to renewable energy adoption. For some regions, renewable energy isn’t at cost parity with subsidized fossil-based energy. For other, internal competition for capital or policies that exclude green practices such as PPAs send mixed signals about a company’s commitment to sustainability.

The report offers several recommendations for U.S. policymakers, focusing on tax credits or other incentives that level the cost playing field. These include extending the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, establishing Renewable Portfolio Standards in states that do not have them, and removing policy hurdles that prevent companies from building on-site renewable power generation.

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