I’m an admirer of GE, chief executive Jeff Immelt and the company’s Ecomagination initiative. Its influence on the rest of business has been huge. But GE’s latest product, a credit card to help people offset their carbon emissions, leaves me with mixed feelings. That’s the topic of today’s CNNMoney.com column.
Ordinarily, I tend to applaud even incremental efforts by business to address environmental and social problems. But I’m starting to worry that we are approaching the issue of climate change like GWBush approached the Iraq War–without a full assessment of the costs, without asking anyone to sacrifice, with politically easy but unrealistic solutions. (Yes, changing lots of lightbulbs can change the world. No, that won’t reduce carbon emissions by nearly enough…).
Here’s how the column begins:
With much fanfare, General Electric today introduced a new platinum credit card which, instead of offering cash back or frequent flyer miles, promises to help consumers fight global warming.
Unveiled at a crowded press conference at Seven World Trade Center, one of New York’s most environmentally-sensitive buildings, the new Earth Rewards MasterCard — which, of course, comes in several shades of green — may be the purest example of GE’s Jeff Immelt’s oft-stated belief that “green is green.”
As Lorraine Bolsinger, the GE executive who oversees its Ecomagination campaign, put it: “What’s good for the environment can be good for business, and what’s good for business can be good for the environment.”
“Together, we can advance the fight against global warming,” said Tom Gentile, the chief marketing officer for GE Money, the giant conglomerate’s consumer finance arm.
Forgive me, but I don’t buy the idea that we can shop our way to a cleaner planet. It sounds too good to be true, and it is.