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US: GE to Unveil Green Initiative

Financial Times
May 9th, 2005

Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and chief executive of General Electric, will on Monday unveil a plan to invest in and develop technology that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of industrial development.

GE plans to invent "green technology" that will be safer for the environment than current products and will double its current spending on research to develop new products.

The company will also commit to reducing greenhouse gases and make the environmental consequences of its work more transparent.

GE's plan comes as the Bush administration is encouraging businesses to develop technologies that are safer for the environment.

The group's energy division has already developed a process that converts coal into a gas before burning it, making it a much cleaner process than that used by traditional coal plants.

Mr Immelt will give a speech at George Washington University in Washington DC where he will describe the company-wide initiative, known as "ecomagination".

GE joins other industrial companies that have decided a focus on the environment could improve their bottom line as well as their reputation with customers. The hope is that the technologies developed through research become growth businesses.

BP, the UK energy giant, has for some years been running a campaign known as "Beyond Petroleum". It last month announced plans to invest more than $130m on new clean diesel facilities at its Whiting, Indiana refinery and said its BP Solar division had expanded a program that enables Home Depot customers in California to obtain complete installed solar home power systems that can reduce electrical bills and increase home values "without adverse impacts to the environment".

Several carmarkers, inlcuding Toyota and General Motors, have found success selling automobiles with engines that use both petrol and electricity.

For about a week, GE has been running advertisements on the networks of NBC, which it owns, to promote its company-wide "ecomagination" campaign. The ads feature an elephant dancing to "Singin' in the Rain".

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