Washington, DC - Despite their role as the biggest contributors to climate change, a new report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reveals that the planet's largest power companies are failing to make use of available technologies to address the threat that climate change poses to the environment. Ranking Power, a new WWF report, documents the overall failure of major power sector companies around the world to significantly invest in renewable and efficient energy in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Almost two thirds of the companies evaluated received a score of less than one out of a possible ten for their response to global warming, with more than 90% rating below three. Rankings are based on the companies' current use of available technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, as well as clear commitments they have made for future improvements.
"The power sector is the biggest single polluter of greenhouse gases, responsible for 37 percent of CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels," said Jennifer Morgan, Director WWF Climate Change Program. "However, the companies we analyzed are completely unprepared for fundamental change in the way they invest in clean and efficient energy. If they keep polluting our atmosphere by burning carbon rich coal, the window of opportunity to avoid a global warming crisis will soon be closed."
Ranking Power analyzes 72 of the world's leading power companies, which among them produce two thirds of all electricity generated in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries and Russia. The rankings assess 40% of a company's overall score based on its current use of emission-reducing technologies, and 60% from commitments for future improvement, as available. Globally, few companies ranked well on either measure. Among American firms, 24% racked up a cumulative score of zero out of a possible score of ten; 76% came in below one.
"The sorry performance of most American power companies is unfortunately no big surprise," said Katherine Silverthorne, Director, WWF US Climate Change Program . "As long as U.S. companies fail to recognize the business case for clean energy technologies, their continued reliance on the most polluting fuels will leave us technologically outdated. The recent surge in applications for coal fired facilities shows that many companies are still in denial about the magnitude of the risk."
One bright spot in the U.S. rankings was Florida Power and Light (FPL), which scored a relatively encouraging 4.3 - highest in the U.S. rankings and second globally, primarily due to the company's leadership in developing wind energy and their commitment to dramatically improve their efficiency. FPL is among the first U.S. power companies to become a WWF PowerSwitch! Pioneer, which includes a commitment to support urgently-needed binding limits on national CO2 emissions. Companies that become pioneers in the WWF program also agree to undertake one or more of the following action targets: use renewables as a source for 20 percent of their electricity sold by 2020; increase energy efficiency by 15 percent by 2020; or retire the least efficient half of coal generation by 2020.
"Florida Power and Light and other PowerSwitch! Pioneers are proving that power companies can do the right thing for the environment and their bottom line at the same time," said Silverthorne. "It's time for other companies to step up, to make the public commitments and to take the actions that will benefit people in helping to solve the global warming crisis."
The "PowerSwitch! Pioneer" effort is an integral part of WWF's global PowerSwitch! Campaign, being expanded today with activities in more than 20 nations. The effort aims to clean up the power sector by building a movement of activists around the world to urge companies and governments to make the switch from coal to clean energy.
Methodology of Ranking Power: The study scores the performance of 72 large power companies that together produce 65% of all electricity generated in the OECD and Russia. The companies are ranked in terms of their production, sale and investment in renewable energy and gas-CHP. Company actions were ranked from 0 (worst) to 10 (best). WWF solicited information directly from companies and relied on company public reports when companies were unresponsive. Such public data generally contained adequate information about a company's current energy generation, but generally did not reveal future investment plans, about which many companies remain secretive. In addition, many countries and numerous states within the U.S. have passed laws that mandate that a minimum percentage of energy come from renewable sources. WWF assumes that the companies in these countries and states, assessed in this report, will comply with these laws. However, their plans for how to do so are in many cases unavailable and are therefore not included in the ranking.
Key elements of WWF's new PowerSwitch! campaign: With PowerSwitch! WWF aims to reduce heat-trapping CO2 emissions, from the emitting sector - electric power generation. Key elements of WWF's global PowerSwitch! vision are: expanding the role of renewable energy such as wind, solar and biomass; improving the efficiency of domestic appliances, buildings and industrial motors; increasing the efficiency of power plants through the recycling of waste heat, and making the power sector and governments implement solutions to global warming. The long term goal is to achieve a carbon-free power sector by 2050 in industrialized countries and to trigger a major switch from coal to clean energy in developing countries in that time. PowerSwitch! is a global campaign run by WWF offices in more than 20 countries. In addition to a central launch event today in Brussels, Belgium, launch events will be organized by national or regional WWF offices in at least 20 countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Nepal, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States. The launch of the campaign includes the launch of WWF's new campaign website: www.panda.org/powerswitch
Members states of the OECD relevant for the report: The Organzation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) was founded on December 14, 1960. Twenty countries originally signed the Convention, since then a further ten countries have become members of the organization. Companies from 17 of the 30 OECD member states have been analyzed in the report. These companies are based in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
WWF definitions for gas-CHP and renewable energy: For WWF, sustainable renewable energy excludes waste incineration, large hydro and peat. Gas-CHP is combined heat and power, supplying both heat and electricity to consumers.
The report can be found at www.panda.org. For B roll footage of the Powerswitch! Campaign, please contact Tanya Petersen, at the WWF International TV Centre, tel. +4122 364 9565.
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