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Businesses Look to Cut Carbon Emissions in the U.S. South

Maggie Kohn headshotWords by Maggie Kohn
Energy & Environment
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Though the United States may pull out of the Paris climate agreement, U.S. business leaders are moving full speed ahead with their own efforts to tackle carbon emissions.

Earlier this month, nearly 30 companies with operations along the U.S. Gulf Coast kicked off what organizers call a first-of-its-kind industry initiative that will work across sectors to reduce emissions. 

The Gulf Coast Carbon Collaborative includes companies with operations in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. They pledged to meet on a quarterly basis to learn from one another, work to scale decarbonization strategies, build cross-industry capacity, and forge policy recommendations based on empirical results. 

“There is tremendous industrial activity in the Gulf Coast Region supporting a strong economy,” said Andrew Mangan, co-founder and executive director of the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD), which brought together the companies along with New Orleans-based Entergy Corp. “At the same time, companies want to avoid putting more carbon into the atmosphere. They are interested in learning different strategies, techniques and ways they can work together to leverage greater carbon reduction.” 

Participating companies include AEP, AmerisourceBergen, Armstrong Flooring, Bank of America, BASF, Dow, Entergy, Honeywell, Ingersoll Rand, Shell, the Southern Company, Tierra Resources, Total and Toyota.

Accelerating the shift to a low-carbon emissions economy 

Organizers say the Collaborative will explore strategies to accelerate the shift to renewable energy, increase land-based carbon sequestration, and employ carbon capture, utilization and storage. They'll also look to modernize equipment and share best practices on how to finance efficiency upgrades. 

“For any individual company and certainly for the region as a whole, there will be no single carbon reduction strategy,” Mangan told TriplePundit. “A number of different strategies must be utilized, and corporate climate leaders will need to work with other functions within their companies—including procurement, finance and legal— to develop and implement strategies.” 

Energy company Entergy came to USBCSD earlier this year with the idea that led to the Collaborative, Mangan said. The company, which provides electricity to 2.9 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas, was the first U.S. utility to cap carbon emissions voluntarily way back in 2001. The company is also a strong advocate for national action on climate change and an economy-wide price on carbon.

“If we can bring the collective power of this group and examples of the projects that come out of it to bear on developing good policies, they are much more likely to become reality,” said Chuck Barlow, vice president of sustainability and environmental policy for Entergy. “The result will be greater net benefits to our communities and our planet.”

While USBCSD will facilitate the Collaborative, Mangan stresses it will be business-led. He hopes it will lead to similar collaborations elsewhere, such as the Great Lakes region. 

The Collaborative comes on the heels of a new report by the nonprofit Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which recommends that companies seek out opportunities to work across sectors to reduce carbon emissions. “Decarbonization will move faster and more efficiently if more oars are rowing in the same direction,” the organization noted in the report.  

The report urges companies in climate-critical sectors to ramp up investment in the technologies and workforce needed to decarbonize the economy, and to work with investors to shift long-term capital from higher-carbon to lower-carbon resources, products, and business models. 

Image credit: Adam Reeder/Flickr

Maggie Kohn headshotMaggie Kohn

Maggie Kohn is excited to be a contributor to Triple Pundit to illustrate how business can achieve positive change in the world while supporting long-term growth. Maggie worked for more than 20 years at the biopharma giant Merck & Co., Inc., leading corporate responsibility and social business initiatives. She currently writes, speaks and consults on corporate responsibility and social impact when she is not busy fostering kittens for her local animal shelter. Click here to learn more.

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