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Big-Time Companies Hop Aboard the Climate Pledge

Grant Whittington headshotWords by Grant Whittington
Energy & Environment
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Thirteen well-known companies have signed President Barack Obama’s climate pledge, each promising to tackle environmental issues in its particular field. The agreements come months ahead of the United Nations’ international climate convention set to take place this December in Paris.

The 13 businesses — Alcoa, Apple, Bank of America, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, Cargill, Coca-Cola, General Motors, Goldman Sachs, Google, Microsoft, PepsiCo, UPS and Walmart — include some of the most influential and most widely-recognized brands in the world. The commitment from these companies could open the doors for climate obligations nationwide, with companies running to environmentally compete with the likes of these large retailers, car manufacturers, Internet brands and banks, among others.

Although the companies joined forces to sign the climate pledge, the businesses are setting different goals for when and how they’ll reduce unclean energy usage. Let’s take a look at what each company is promising individually.

The breakdown

Alcoa: One of the world’s largest aluminum producers.

  • Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent in the U.S. by 2025

  • Reduce GHG intensity by 30 percent by 2020.
Apple: Makers of the iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac. You probably have at least two Apple products.

  • Already 100 percent renewable energy

  • Will bring in 280 megawatts of clean power generation online by the end of 2016 through investments in Arizona, California, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon and Sichuan Province, China.
Bank of America: Charlotte, North Carolina-based banking corporation that’s the second largest bank holding company in the U.S. by assets.

  • Increase environmental business initiative from $50 billion to $125 billion by 2025 through lending, investing, capital raising, advisory services and developing financing solutions for clients.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy: Mega-company that owns Geico, Fruit of the Loom and Dairy Queen, while owning partial stakes in Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, IBM and American Express. The chairman, president and CEO is billion-dollar bracket gambler Warren Buffett.

  • Match its current $15 billion investment in renewable energy with an additional $15 billion.

  • Retire more than 75 percent of coal-fueled capacity in Nevada.

  • Construct 552 megawatts of new wind in Iowa. Add more than 1,000 megawatts of solar and wind capacity through long-term power purchase agreements to PacifiCorp.

  • Invest in transmission infrastructure in the West and Midwest to support the integration of renewable energy into the grid.
Cargill: The largest privately-held corporation in the United States, Cargill specializes in trading agricultural necessities like livestock nurturing.

  • Improve greenhouse gas intensity by 5 percent by 2020

  • Improve freshwater efficiency by 5 percent

  • Increase renewable energy to 18 percent from 14 percent by 2020
Coca-Cola: The beverage-maker behind Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dasani, Fanta and others.

  • Reduce carbon footprint of “the drink in your hand” by 25 percent by 2020.
General Motors: The manufacturer of Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.

  • Reduce energy intensity from facilities by 20 percent by 2020.

  • Achieve 150 landfill-free facilities by 2020.

  • Reduce total waste by 40 percent by 2020
Goldman Sachs: A multibillion-dollar banking firm specializing in investment banking and investment management.

  • Continue investment of $40 billion pledged in 2012 to finance clean energy. Money has already been allotted for solar, wind, smart grid and other clean technologies. The 10-year plan is well ahead of schedule, and the company will re-assess its progress and set a new goal for 2025.

  • Aiming for 100 percent renewable power
Google: The world’s most popular search engine.

  • Purchased 1.1 gigawatts of renewable energy with the goal of powering all operations by 100 percent renewables.

  • Committed to reducing water consumption in the arid, rain-starved West.

  • Encouraging employees to shuttle, carpool, bike or walk to work
Microsoft: Technological company responsible for Xbox, Windows, Office and Skype.

  • Purchase 100 percent renewable energy for the operations of its data centers, offices and labs.
PepsiCo: The beverage company behind Pepsi, Diet Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade and 7-UP.

  • Strive for zero deforestation by 2020.

  • Expand the use of sustainable farming practices to half a million acres of farmland in North America.
UPS: The world’s largest package delivery company.

  • Double the goal to 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. Reduce the amount of fuel required to travel a given distance.
Walmart: According to the Fortune Global 500, Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue.

  • Double the number of on-site solar energy projects at U.S. stores.

  • Establish joint agricultural partnerships with 17 suppliers

  • Achieve zero net deforestation in product sourcing by 2020.

To view a full description of each company's commitments, click here.

Image credit: Flickr/John Lillis

Grant Whittington headshotGrant Whittington

Based in Washington, DC, Grant works as a program assistant at SEEP Network, an international development nonprofit. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. Grant is passionate about humanitarianism and finding sustainable approaches to international development. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

Read more stories by Grant Whittington