GE announces 1.5 billion dollar investment in "ecoimagination"

'This ain't no party' TreeHuggers. 'This ain't no foolin' around'. This is your Father's General Electric looking to make some long green off the Green. Wall Street Journal's advance coverage of the investment plan included this header text: "Seeking to make money on the global push toward tougher environmental regulation, General Electric Co. plans to roll out today a comprehensive investment, marketing and policy initiative that addresses environmental issues such as global warming and water shortages".

That seems to spin what likely is a more proactive strategy than just "reacting to regulations", reflecting announced plans by GE to "more than double its investment, to $1.5 billion by 2010, in technologies that include cleaner coal-fired power plants, a diesel-and-electric hybrid locomotive and agricultural silicon that cuts the amount of water and pesticide used in spraying fields". You gotta think that the suits at GE didn't just now figure out that with energy prices doubling and then quadrupling in 3 years that there'd be some kind of growth market in resource efficient products?Of course they have: their GE Profile Arctica™ ENERGY STAR refrigerators (graphic at top of post) use 53% less energy than models manufactured before 1993. And don't forget that GE snapped up Enron's wind turbine division in the wake of the latter's chimeric crash, an aquisition even the most fossile among investors can't help but see as smart.

So, what's behind the need for GE's President to announce this in a speech at George Washington University (just blocks from the US capital)? Might have to do with a symbolic changing of the guard, as GE's Chairman and Chief Executive, Jeffrey Immelt, holds forth on the opportunities for business in a "carbon-constrained world," sending a favorable message to a new generation of global investors. This TreeHugger thinks it sends a most crucial message. One more US corporation sees what's going on in the larger world and choses not to bury it's head in the sand of short-term "Island USA" politics. Its about leadership.

This could intensify the debate over whether the US Federal government should acknowledge climate change up front and center, and play an active role in mitigating the causes. While that dog-fight plays out at 30,000 feet, real live TreeHuggers at ground level have serious matters at hand, like learning how to reduce their personal "footprint" and bring beauty to their own lives.

Feel free to comment dear executives. Never too late to be a TreeHugger.

by: John Laumer