Looking ahead to a United Nations climate change summit in Paris later this year, 13 American companies have signed on to a new White House pledge to go green.
Executives from the companies, which include Microsoft, Apple and Coca-Cola, met at the White House Monday to announce the program. By signing the pledge, the companies are expressing support for a strong result from the U.N. talks in Paris this December, along with setting their own goals for sustainability. Together, they will invest more than $140 billion to move toward smaller carbon footprints and produce 1,600 megawatts of new renewable energy.
“They’re not just committing to supporting a successful outcome in Paris,” Brian Deese, a senior adviser to the president, said in a conference call. “They’re also walking the walk.”
Our goal here was to identify an initial set of companies who are global brands and recognized leaders in their fields.
Brian Deese, White House senior adviser
Specific goals vary from one company to another, but they include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, making low-carbon investments, using more clean energy and decreasing water usage.
“We think it’s critical that the business community get behind the government and ensure that we really do use Paris as the opportunity to move the world in a different direction,” said Kevin McKnight, chief sustainability officer for aluminum producer Alcoa, which is part of the first group to sign the pledge.
The White House hopes the 13 companies will set an example for others. The aim is to involve more companies in the pledge before the Paris negotiations this December.
“Our goal here was to identify an initial set of companies who are global brands and recognized leaders in their fields…with the goal of having this be the beginning of a process by which we could encourage much broader participation across companies and company profiles,” Deese said.
The public gesture of signing the pledge will help to hold the companies accountable, he said.
“These are public-facing commitments that are tracked in multiple, multiple places in the market,” said Rob Bernard, chief environmental strategist for Microsoft. “The public market will enforce any company that makes a pledge in today’s environment and economy.”
Many of the companies who signed the pledge already had strong environmental goals in place, Deese noted, with the commitments they’ve announced today moving them further toward sustainability.
The other companies signing the pledge are Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway, Cargill, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, PepsiCo, UPS and Wal-Mart.