Businesses Propose Warming Solutions

Steps proposed to curb greenhouse gases could mean big bucks for some.

ByABC News
February 2, 2007, 7:40 PM

Feb. 2, 2007 — -- While scientists worry about a warming world, some companies say that with the right moves, the United States could cut its output of greenhouse gases 60 percent to 80 percent by the middle of the century.

They say there are steps that can be taken now, and they need not be painful. They may even prove profitable.

"We believe that technology is one of the keys to driving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and productivity at the same time," said Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric, at a meeting Jan. 22.

GE is one of 10 large companies that joined with environmental groups to make "a call for swift action on global climate change."

Among other steps, they broke with other companies to propose that the government pass aggressive plans to curb production of carbon dioxide and other gases, such as methane, that scientists say trap heat in the atmosphere and warm the planet.

They added proposals that they said would make such curbs less expensive to the American economy. Among other things, they suggested a cap-and-trade system, so that if one business is struggling to meet the greenhouse goals, it can team with other companies that are ahead of schedule.

An electric company that burns a lot of coal, for instance, could buy emission credits from another that relies on so-called renewable energy. All that matters in the end, under this plan, would be that the total output of greenhouse gases goes down.

All sorts of other ideas are out there. Engineers are looking at ways to capture the carbon dioxide that comes out of a smokestack or a car's engine. Executives said companies that find a way could become very rich.

"We firmly believe that climate change can be addressed in ways that create more economic opportunity than economic risk," said Peter Darby, the head of Pacific Gas & Electric, the largest utility in Northern California.