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Companies to Pledge $140 Billion in Efforts to Cut Carbon Emissions

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More than a dozen U.S. companies on Monday will pledge to invest more than $140 billion in efforts to cut carbon emissions as part of a new Obama administration initiative leading up to the United Nations climate-change summit later this year.

Bank of America Corp., General Motors Co., Cargill Inc. and Alcoa Inc. are among the companies set to sign onto a pledge to address climate change at a White House event Monday with Secretary of State John Kerry and White House adviser Brian Deese.
Monday’s announcement, which also includes tech giants Google Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., is one part of an expansive effort by the Obama administration to address climate change and make it a legacy of President Barack Obama’s time in the White House.

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As soon as next week, the Environmental Protection Agency is set to issue final rules cutting carbon emissions from U.S. power plants. These regulations are the biggest driver behind the administration’s efforts to forge a global agreement at the U.N. conference in Paris to cut carbon emissions.

“It’s significant because they are carbon-intensive, energy-consuming companies making a bottom-up commitment to address climate change,” said Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington-based analysis firm.

None of the companies taking part in Monday’s event produce oil, natural gas or coal—the sector responsible for emitting most of the carbon scientists say is causing global warming. Most U.S. fossil-fuel companies have either resisted or are silent on efforts to cut carbon emissions. But in June, six European oil and natural gas companies sent a letter to the U.N. calling for a price on carbon emissions.

Monday’s announcement is the first of at least two such corporate pledges on climate change organized by the Obama administration, with a second round planned for this fall.

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Whether or not U.S. fossil-fuel companies eventually join any sort of pledge on climate change will depend in part on whether “the momentum has gotten so great that they look bad by not contributing,” Mr. Book said.

The pledges to be announced Monday vary in their significance and type. Alcoa, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of aluminum, is committing to cutting its U.S. carbon emissions by 50% by 2025, based on emissions levels in 2005. Bank of America is committing $75 billion through lending and other types of financing by 2025, which is on top of a previously announced $50 billion commitment. General Motors is pledging to cut the carbon intensity of its facilities by 20% by 2020, based on emission levels in 2010.

The companies making pledges Monday also include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., United Parcel Service Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

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