General Electric (GE) has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2030, led by a strategy built around emission reductions and energy efficiency at the multinational’s more than 1,000 factories and test sites, warehouses and offices around the world.
CEO Larry Culp, in a LinkedIn post, said the US power technology giant would be focusing its plan on “absolute reductions of direct emissions and energy use”, with the scale of GE’s industrial manufacturing footprint meaning achieving its goal would represent “significant” cut to its greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).
“We are targeting the majority of our progress toward the 2030 goal to be through absolute reductions of direct emissions and energy use achieved through operational investments, smart power sourcing, and elimination of waste,” he said.
“GE’s prior efforts in this space led us to exceed our greenhouse gas reduction goal for 2020 by reducing emissions from our own operations between 2011 and 2019. These investments and improvements are good for the bottom line and for the world, and employees across GE are energised and proud to help with this type of problem solving.”
By GE’s 2019 calculations it currently generates 2.39 million metric tons of Scope 1 and 2 (direct and indirect) GHG from its operations.
A GE spokesman told Recharge: “We have been working on absolute reductions of direct emissions for a long time – for example, delivering 21% reduction between 2011-2019. Although, we have not set a percentage goal, our focus is on continuing to drive down absolute reductions over the next decade.”
Last month, GE announced its exit of the new-build coal power market, with plans to shift investment to its renewable energy and power generation businesses, in what Culp called “another significant step that underscores the interplay among decarbonisation, market dynamics and our business strategy”.
Last year, GE Renewable Energy, the company’s clean-energy arm, unveiled its ambition to be carbon neutral by the end of 2020, with all operations being powered by a combination of wind, hydropower and energy storage and remaining emissions covered by energy efficiency gains and carbon offsets.
“Climate change is undoubtedly among the foremost of [contemporary] challenges, and we have been sharpening our strategic focus on GE’s role in helping solve the global energy transition. Our history of innovation, our global footprint and the industries we are in all uniquely position us for building solutions to this challenge,” said Culp.
Culp put the accent on the role of technology in shaping response to the climate crisis, saying “substantial advancements” would be needed to accelerate the energy transition.
He said GE, as a company “whose people have led innovation for more than 120 years”, was “uniquely positioned to address this urgent challenge … with products [that] are making a meaningful impact on the world’s ability to decarbonise”, citing advances in onshore and offshore wind technology as well as more efficient gas and aviation turbines and small modular nuclear reactors.
“Technology advancements like these are a central part of our business strategy, and we will continue to invest in R&D and pursue next generation products and breakthroughs as part of our commercial differentiation,” said Culp.
Culp – who became CEO of the loss-making American industrial icon in October 2018 and embarked on what he said would be a multiyear financial turnaround – underlined the “ongoing dialogue with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders about emissions reductions across the entire value chains of our industries” as “important work … in focusing on the areas of greatest impact within our different sectors”.
“As utilities, power producers, grid operators and policymakers around the world set their own decarbonisation goals for the power sector, GE’s diverse offerings will enable them to achieve their targets,” he said. “Those offerings range from wind power to state-of-the-art natural gas, nuclear and other power generation equipment, grid upgrades and solutions like hydrogen and carbon capture that are likely to play a growing role over time.”