On Heels of IPO, GM Makes Bold Offset Investment

On Heels of IPO, GM Makes Bold Offset Investment

Image CC licensed by Flickr user saebaryo

Against a backdrop of what could be the largest IPO in U.S. history, Chevrolet will announce today its plans to invest $40 million in carbon offset projects across the country over the next three to five years.

The projects, ranging from generating solar energy at schools to capturing methane gas at landfills, are expected to reduce eight million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions -- roughly the annual emissions produced by the 1.9 million Chevrolet vehicles to be sold over the next year.

"GM has made great progress in reducing our environmental impact, but we know we can do more," General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said in a statement. "Chevrolet's investment is an extension of the environmental initiatives we've been undertaking for years because the solution to global environmental challenges goes beyond just vehicles."

Parent company General Motors timed the announcement to the day it made a triumphant return to the stock market. GM said on Wednesday it would increase the size of its initial public offering because of high demand, marking what many are calling a significant milestone for a company that has seen its share of bailouts and bankruptcy.

"It is a way for us to communicate that we are not the same company," Joel Ewanick, GM's vice president of marketing, said during a conference call with reporters Thursday.

In another bright spot, Chevrolet just won two major industry accolades when its highly-anticipated gasoline-electric hybrid Volt was named both Car of the Year by Motor Trend, and Automobile of the Year by Automobile magazine. Today, the Volt was named Green Car of the Year at the L.A. Auto Show.

The company said its $40 million offset investment would be made through third-party organizations including the nonprofit Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

GM is also turning to a team of all-star advisors to help the company shape the program's portfolio, including Bob Sheppard, vice president of corporate programs at Clean Air-Cool Planet; Derik Broekhoff, vice president of policy at Climate Action Reserve; Mark Kenber, deputy CEO of The Climate Group; Snehall Desai, a sustainability strategist; Janet Peace, vice president at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change; and Eban Goodstein, director for the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College.

Ewanick said in the conference call the company would look at projects that had a multiplier effect and called on communities across the country to advance local projects in which Chevrolet could invest.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the announcement, see Joel Makower's blog, "Can General Motors Save the Planet?"

Image CC licensed by Flickr user saebaryo.