Resource: Cutting Carbon: Business Realizes Benefits
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Title: Cutting Carbon: Business Realizes Benefits
Resource type: Article
Topics: Business, Energy, Statewide/Global
Keywords: energy security, national security, distributed energy, oil-constrained future
Audience: All
Region: Minnesota Statewide, Outside Minnesota
Summary: An August 2004 article in BusinessWeek Online focused on business responses to global climate change.
Content: "Give us a date, tell us how much we need to cut [carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation], give us the flexibility to meet the goals, and we'll get it done," says Wayne H. Brunetti, (now former) CEO of Xcel Energy Inc., the nation's fourth-largest electricity and gas utility.

"It's impossible to find a company that has acted [on cutting greenhouse gas emissions] and has not found [economic] benefits," says Michael Northrop, co-creator of the Climate Group ( ), a coalition of companies and governments set up to share such success stories of energy efficiency implementation.

"The ones who have been at it for a while [increasing their efficiency of energy use to cut CO2] are finding they can do more than is asked for in Kyoto, and are achieving all kinds of benefits," says Northrop. BP, for instance, developed its own internal strategy for trading carbon emissions. That prompted a companywide search to find the lowest-cost reductions. Many of the measures were simple, such as identifying and plugging leaks. The overall result: a 10% reduction in emissions and a $650 million boost to the company in three years.

These quotes come from the August 16, 2004 cover story "Global Warming" on BusinessWeek Online. To read the article, go to The six-page article reports on a growing consensus among scientists, governments and business that they must act fast to combat climate change. Many large companies are now preparing for a carbon-constrained world.

Energy efficiency, first taken seriously after the 1979 oil shock and now the cheapest and fastest growing "source" of new energy, is the key strategy to combating global climate change, and dealing with oil shortages coming next decade.

Since 1975 there has been a 40% drop in US energy intensity (energy consumption per dollar of real Gross Domestic Product). The annual US energy bill is about $200 billion lower today than it would have been had we not improved energy efficiency. And focusing just on oil: from 1977 to 1985, the US economy grew 27% while oil use fell 17%.

Yet the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), one of the first organizations to focus on energy efficiency, estimates additional potential savings of hundreds of billion dollars per year. Learn more at the RMI web site ( or ) and at RMI's "Winning the Oil Endgame" website at

Suggested by: Philipp Muessig
Added: 09/23/04
Updated: 04/4/12