Power Companies Fail to Chart Clear Course to Combat Climate Change, Says WWF

Power Companies Fail to Chart Clear Course to Combat Climate Change, Says WWF

A new report by the World Wildlife Fund shows that the power sector, the biggest single contributor to climate change, is failing to act responsibly in the face of the greatest threat confronting the world in the 21st century.

The report Ranking Power reveals the companies’ overall failure to significantly invest in renewable and efficient energy in order to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Almost two-thirds of power companies received a ranking of less than 1 out of 10 for their response to global warming, and more than 90% rank less than 3.

The report was released at the launch of WWF’s new PowerSwitch! campaign, which aims to clean up the power sector with public support. The campaign will build a movement of activists around the world to urge companies and governments to make the switch from coal to clean energy. Campaign launches are occurring in over 20 countries today -- sending a clear signal that the power sector must change.

“The power sector is the biggest single polluter of greenhouse gases, responsible for 37% of CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of WWF's Global 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 amongst them produce two thirds of all electricity generated in OECD countries and Russia. It ranks them in terms of their use, sale and investment in renewable energy and highly efficient natural gas. 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.

European companies hardly perform any better, but come out best in the analysis. No European company scored 0 while the best performing company was Iberdrola of Spain, with 4.3 points. However, only one fifth of the European companies surveyed had a share of renewable energy in their fuel mix greater than 2%. In Japan and Australia the use of renewable fuel is extremely limited. The fuel mix in these countries is often dominated by lignite coal, one of the dirtiest and most carbon rich fuels of all.

According to WWF, the power sector's contribution to climate change threatens the very development that electricity promotes. Unless action is taken now, it will put millions of people at risk from rising sea levels, loss of fresh water, extreme weather and disease. Yet, three quarters of the companies were not willing to disclose their strategy to tackle global warming.

“They fail to recognize the harm their inaction poses to millions around the planet,” said Jennifer Morgan. “These companies lack the accountability needed to win public trust and are vulnerable to charges of arrogance.”

A PDF version of the Ranking Power report can be downloaded here.