General Motors Company (GM), Starbucks Corporation (SBUX): Corporate Change Agents Come Clean on Green

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Last week, Ceres held its annual conference in San Francisco. The sustainability advocacy organization brings together representatives from non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, major institutional investors, and corporations to discuss climate change and its impacts on economies and the world. Coinciding with the conference, several big companies added their support for climate change policy by signing a public declaration.

Ceres has formed a splinter coalition, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy, or BICEP, which seeks to work with policymakers to pass energy and climate legislation and hurry the shift to a low-carbon economy for modern America. BICEP’s Climate Declaration is a vow to coordinate efforts to combat climate change through policy.

Declarations and the drive to change
Already, 40 companies have signed on to the declaration, including Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ:SBUX), eBay Inc (NASDAQ:EBAY), Seventh Generation, Annies Inc (NYSE:BNNY), and Patagonia.

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) may not jump to mind as a company that’s speeding along on green pathways, but it is one of the latest to sign the declaration, and it’s the first automaker to do so. Whether investors realize it or not, GM has already been working on environmentally friendly initiatives even beyond manufacturing more energy-efficient vehicles.

The auto giant has vowed to reduce energy intensity from its facilities by 20% by 2020. In fact, at 54 of its facilities, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) has already reduced its energy intensity by an average of 26% within just two to three years, cutting its energy bills by $90 million. It also boasts two of the five largest rooftop solar arrays in the world, making it the No. 1 automotive solar power user in the U.S.

General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)At the Fortune Brainstorm Green conference in April, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) CEO Daniel Akerson talked about the company’s major environmental initiatives. Out of its 125 plants, 105 produce zero landfill waste; in his words, “not a drop of paint, not an ounce of steel” goes to landfill. Materials are reused and recycled. The company isn’t just cutting its costs; reused materials add $1 billion in revenue to boot.

Credit: General Motors Company (NYSE:GM)

Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ:ADSK), Novelis, LUSH, and Method were also among the newest companies to sign the BICEP climate declaration, as announced at the conference.

Good for long-term business and economic health, good for bottom lines
This week and next, I’ll cover more of the important discussions and data that emerged from Ceres’ conference. The issues ran the gamut from climate change’s effects on business, focusing on both the negative and the opportunities at hand, to the gatherings’ will to tackle environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues head-on.

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