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Corporations' hopes for Copenhagen

Packages of General Electric light bulbs are displayed on a hardware store shelf in San Rafael, Calif.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

Steve Chiotakis: We're in the waning days of the United Nations Summit in Copenhagen.
World leaders are trying to hammer out some kind of consensus on the issue of climate change. Marketplace is there with reporters covering the meetings. And we're looking at how the issue is affecting nations and corporations around the world. Take General Electric's big balancing act. Make a profit; act environmentally responsible.

AnN Condon is Director and Counsel for Environmental, Health and Safety programs for GE and she joins us from Copenhagen. Hi Anne.

Ann Condon: Good morning.

Chiotakis: You know, a lot of companies are seeing that being profitable and fighting climate change are not mutually exclusive. I mean how can addressing environmental issue actually benefit a company's bottom line?

Condon: Well I think at GE, we have focused on increasing revenue from products that are more energy efficient or cleaner than other products. And the revenues from those have increased faster than in other segments.

Chiotakis: Earlier this year, GE became one of the many companies to complain about the policies of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in opposition to climate change legislation. What would you guys like to see from the chamber and from other businesses here in the United States?

Condon: Well I think what we've been talking about -- and I'm here with GE obviously, but I also chair the Environment Committee for the United States Council for International Business, which is the U.S. delegate to the International Chamber of Commerce -- and the message that we've been giving through that forum, which obviously represents many businesses, is that we need a clear direction from policy makers, and we need to do that in a way that reflects obligations on the part of all the major emitting parties, or otherwise we end up with a very unfair arrangement. Which will then lead to potentially trade sanctions, which we think is a very bad idea.

Chiotakis: So how do you want to see this end? I mean, what do you want to see come out of Copenhagen?

Condon: Well I think what we'd like to see come out of Copenhagen is a clear direction that the governments of this world are committed to continuing to tackle the climate change challenge, and to put in place in their national legislation the kind of policies and measures that are, for example, under discussion in the U.S. Senate right now, have been adopted by the E.U. in their climate and energy package and are being talked about in jurisdictions around the world.

Chiotakis: Well Ann Condon, Director and Counsel of Environmental, Health and Safety programs over at GE, we thank you for being with us today.

Condon: You're very welcome.

About the author

Steve Chiotakis was the host of Marketplace Morning Report until January 2012.

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