General Electric (NYSE: GE) said it wants to exit the new-build coal power market.
“GE’s Steam Power business will work with customers on existing obligations as it pursues this exit, which may include divestitures, site closings, job impacts and appropriate considerations for publicly held subsidiaries,” the energy giant said in a media statement. “GE will continue to focus on and invest in its core renewable energy and power generation businesses, working to make electricity more affordable, reliable, accessible, and sustainable. GE Steam Power will continue to deliver turbine islands for the nuclear market and service existing nuclear and coal power plants.”
Even though GE has been gaining increasing positive attention for developments in wind turbines and other renewable technologies, it has also been criticized for continuing to promote high-carbon projects globally.
Two specific situations in which such criticism turned into actionable measures are part of the reason behind the decision to exit new coal developments.
Among those cases was the shareholder resolution that As You Sow filed last year. This non-profit organization focuses on promoting social-corporate responsibility and in its filing, it argued against GE’s pursuit of new fossil fuel projects across the globe at a time when nations are striving to meet Paris Climate Agreement goals.
The resolution was withdrawn after the company agreed to evaluate product emissions and set new greenhouse gas emission targets.
The other case took place in 2018, when As You Sow raised similar concerns in an investor letter to GE regarding its plans to build a new coal plant in Kenya in spite of strong opposition.
“We are pleased that GE has signalled meaningful change to its business by moving away from high-carbon technologies like coal projects,” Danielle Fugere, president of As You Sow, said in a press brief. “This important announcement recognizes the fundamental truth that the world is transitioning away from high-carbon coal. We hope to see GE continue to evaluate how it can evolve and better position itself and the companies it works with to thrive in the low-carbon energy transition.”