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Mike & Catherine Tidwell
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White Dog Café
Episcopal Power and Light
University of Buffalo
World Resources Institute
In most coverage of global warming, spokespeople from the business world typically warn of severe economic damage if companies are required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, when more than 180 nations signed the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change in 1997, calling for industrialized nations to cut their emissions by roughly five percent below 1990 levels by 2012, a parade of industry associations issued dire prognostications if the agreement was enacted.
In the last few years, however, some striking changes have occurred. First, two of the world's largest oil companies, BPAmoco and Shell International, not only acknowledged that global warming was a real problem in need of attention, but pledged to cut their own operating greenhouse emissions by an amount greater than required of nations by the Kyoto Protocol. This was followed with an announcement by one of the world's largest chemical companies, Dupont, that it would voluntarily cut its own emissions of greenhouse gases by a walloping 60 percent below 1990 levels, as well as source 10 percent of all its energy from renewable sources by 2010 -- the single largest corporate purchase of clean energy ever made by a non-utility.
Impressive as these examples are, they are rivaled by the pledge recently taken by STMicroelectronics to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2010. STMicroelectronics (formerly SGS-Thomsen) is a global corporation headquartered in Geneva, with revenues in excess of $7.5 billion. The company designs, develops, manufactures and markets a broad range of semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs) and other devices, used in a wide variety of microelectronics, including telecommunications, computers, and industrial automation and control systems. The company employs 41,000 people in 24 countries.
STMicroelectronics's climate commitment is consistent with the environmental leadership it has demonstrated over the last decade. Much of the credit goes to Pasquale Pistorio, the company's CEO, who first outlined the fundamentals of the company's environmental vision in 1993. The positive actions were fast in coming. Between 1994 and 2000, ST reduced its energy consumption by 29% and its water consumption by 45% (both per million dollars of added value). Paper consumption was cut 50% per employee. In 1996, the corporation began to focus on reducing its emissions of perfluorocarbons (PFCs) by at least a factor of 10 (i.e. by 90%) by 2008. PFCs are widely used in manufacturing semiconductors, and are some of the most potent greenhouse gases in existence.
As Georges Auguste, VP of Total Quality and Environmental Management, notes, "We believe firmly that it is mandatory for a Total Quality Management (TQM) driven corporation to be at the forefront of ecological commitment, not only for ethical and social reasons, but also for financial return " ST has shown that environmental stewardship does not stand in the way of financial performance. For the fiscal year ended 12/31/00, the company's total sales increasing by 55.4% and income by over 150%.
In order to reach the ST pledge of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2010, some of the company's goals for the future include further reducing CO2 emissions due to energy consumption by at least a factor of 10 (i.e. by 90%), and increasing their utilization of renewable energies, including photovoltaics, wind, and thermal solar, until they represent at least 5% of the company's total energy supply. ST also plans to offset its remaining greenhouse gas emissions through reforestation or by other means.
In 1999, STMicroelectronics was presented with the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency, for its outstanding achievements.
All in all, the company has become an outstanding model of intention and accomplishment on global warming and one that the rest of the corporate world could well emulate. It is exactly this kind of environmental leadership that will help guarantee that our children's children will inherit an earth with a safe climate.
Further information on ST can be found at www.st.com.