General Motors joins RE100 campaign and commits to 100% renewable electricity by 2050

Author:
William Brittlebank
Reading time: 5 minutes
15 September 2016

LONDON/NEW YORK: General Motors , one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world, has joined the pioneering RE100 initiative, committing to use 100% renewable electricity by 2050.

RE100, led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, as part of the We Mean Business coalition, brings together the world’s most influential companies making the highest level commitments on renewable power, and GM’s new membership will be showcased at a special Climate Week NYC event on September 20.

With the private sector accounting for about half of the world’s electricity consumption, the initiative reflects the increasing number of firms recognizing the need to commit to ambitious climate leadership to help achieve the targets set out in the historic Paris Agreement in December.

As a new RE100 member, GM has pledged to meet its electricity needs across its global operations, at 350 sites in 59 countries, using only renewable power including wind and solar energy by mid-century.

Amy Davidsen, US Executive Director, The Climate Group, said: “This bold and ambitious commitment from General Motors will undoubtedly catch the attention of the global automotive industry. GM has already saved millions of dollars by using renewable energy, and like any smart business that recognizes an investment opportunity, they want to seize it fully. From reducing fluctuating energy costs to providing energy security – going 100% renewable makes clear economic sense.

“We hope that through this leadership, other heavy manufacturing companies will be inspired to make the switch too. Business needs to remain active and engaged as we transition to a clean economy, a critical factor to help keep global warming well under two degrees and ensure a prosperous future for us all.”

Addressing climate change

The company, based in Detroit, Michigan, has become the 70th member of RE100, and the new commitment is part of its overall strategy to strengthen its business, enhance local communities and address climate change.

Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO, GM said: “Establishing a 100 percent renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact. .

“This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs.”

GM currently saves an estimated US$5 million annually from using renewable energy, with this figure likely to increase significantly with prospective projects coming online and the supply of renewable energy increasing.

The new pledge builds on GM’s previous target of using 125 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020, and the company expects to exceed this goal later this year when two new wind projects come online in Texas and Mexico.

Leading on renewables

GM is also currently installing 30 megawatts of solar arrays at two facilities in China; the company’s Jinqiao Cadillac assembly plant in Shanghai will feature 10 megawatts of rooftop solar and 20 megawatts of solar carports will cover its vehicle distribution center parking area in Wuhan.

The company, which has 22 facilities with solar arrays, three sites using landfill gas, and four that will soon have wind power installations, has been a leader in the use of renewable energy for over 20 years, saving an estimated total of $80 million.

David Tulauskas, Director of Sustainability, GM, added: “It makes business sense for companies to pursue the use of renewables because it improves the bottom-line and takes advantage of energy cost certainty for long-term planning.”

GM’s new membership of RE100 will be promoted at Climate Week NYC at The Climate Group’s high-level networking event, Scaling the Clean Economy: Using Better Energy Better’ hosted by Baker & McKenzie on Tuesday, September 20. The event will bring together members of The Climate Group’s RE100 and EP100 corporate campaigns to analyze the key solutions and best practices towards using 100% renewable electricity or doubling their energy productivity, respectively.

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