Mark Vachon, head of the “ecomagination” sustainable business initiative GE launched in that year. He said revenues generated by operations in his portfolio now totalled $100bn and were growing at more than twice the rate of those in the rest of the company.
GE rejects Republicans’ climate change doubts
General Electric has brushed aside the doubts leading Republican presidential contenders have raised about climate science.
The US industrial and financial conglomerate said it had long seen climate change as a valid concern after an internal evaluation of the scientific case in 2005.
“We found enough data there to have a company like GE respond and we have responded,” said Mark Vachon, head of the “ecomagination”sustainable business initiative GE launched in that year. He said revenues generated by operations in his portfolio now totalled $100bn and were growing at more than twice the rate of those in the rest of the company.
GE’s environmental strategy had also helped it shave $140m from its own energy bill and meant “we’re viewed as relevant in the world”, he said.
Mr Vachon was responding to questions about how GE, a company that has positioned itself as a champion of climate-friendly technologies, views the prospect of voters electing a president reluctant to accept the scientific consensus that carbon emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and oil are warming the earth’s climate.
Separately, Christiana Figueres, the official who heads the Bonn-based UN secretariat that runs global climate negotiations, said the Republicans’ views posed a choice for US voters about whether they wanted to benefit from the global push towards new clean energy technologies some of their rivals had already embraced.
“Is the US electorate willing to allow the competitive edge on technology to go to China or to Europe, or would they prefer to be the leaders of technology? That is a question that they need to answer,” she said at a news conference in London on Friday.
Mitt Romney, the Republican party’s presidential frontrunner, has said “we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet”, and Rick Santorum, his closest rival, has described climate science as “political science”. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, has said “global warming is not proven”.
Mr Romney and Mr Gingrich, along with many other Republicans, had previously supported both the scientific case for climate change and the need to address it, as did the party’s 2008 presidential candidate, John McCain.
Observers have attributed the party’s shift since the last election to a range of factors, including the rise of the anti-regulatory Tea Party and fears about unemployment. Others suggest the change is due to fossil fuel interests using so-called super PACs – the new generation of political action committees empowered by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling allowing businesses and unions to spend much more on political campaigns than previously permitted.
The Republicans’ stance puts them at odds with politicians from many other countries, especially in Europe, home of some of the world’s most ambitious climate legislation.