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GE Greenwash?

GE is going to offer a credit card where instead of the 1% cash back rebate, you earmark that money for use towards greenhouse gas reducing projects. It's called the GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard.

GE will keep a running tally of the amounts, and each Earth Day it will use the total to buy offsets of greenhouse gas emissions. The offsets will be purchased by GE AES Greenhouse Gas Services, a joint venture between GE Energy Financial Services and AES, a power company.
"It's ironic," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Rainforest Action Network. "GE supplies parts for coal-fired plants, so its credit card offsets emissions it helps create."

Others worry about more direct conflicts of interest. At the new card's Web site, myearthrewards.com, consumers can calculate their carbon footprint and read tips for reducing it, like buying compact fluorescent light bulbs and energy-efficient appliances, items that GE sells. GE is also a big player in carbon offset projects, both directly as an investor and indirectly as a maker of wind turbines and other alternative energy devices.

Kevin Walsh, managing director for renewable energy at GE Energy Financial Services, said GE was supporting only projects that were certified by third parties to be effective and that would not have happened without carbon offsets.

The GE joint venture will buy offsets from projects that capture methane from landfills and coal mines, adding reforestation and alternative energy projects later.


GE is keeping everything about the card as green as possible. It is spurning paper applications, insisting that people apply online or by phone. Although by law it must send paper bills when asked, it is encouraging cardholders to receive and pay their bills online. It plans no direct mail.

While i agree with the environmentalists who are skeptical of GE's motives and methods, i also think that when companies do stuff like this, we should encourage them so that they continue to do so. If something's profitable, they will do it. That's what a corporation's all about. Making profit. Also, when a big company does something like this successfully, it can lead to others following suit. That's the whole point of targeting a company like Coca-Cola. Yeah, it's more than likely that every other soda company is doing the same awful things Coke is doing, but if you push Coke to make the change, it will influence how the smaller brands choose to operate.

I've got the cash back gas card from Discover right now. It's always a good idea when you get the company to give you money. But now i'll have to seriously consider making a switch.

By min | July 25, 2007, 10:25 AM | Liberal Outrage


Wait, let me make sure i understand this: Instead of the 1% cash back that the consumer would be getting, GE gives 1% to an environmental cause. So the consumer gives up the cash back, and GE loses nothing and contributes nothing, but attracts the business of environmentally concerned people over their competitors like Discover? Why is that a good thing?

the cash back is like a rebate. you buy gas from Citgo with your Discover gas card. Discover bills you for it. you pay. but get 1% back from Discover. Citgo still gets full payment for the gas you purchased. that cash back money comes from Discover, not you, not the vendor. normally, you get to then use that money to pay for future purchases. it's "free" money, in a way.

so in the GE scenario, instead of GE paying you 1% back on your purchases, they pay it to some carbon offset.

at least, that is how i understand the cash back system to work. which is why they scaled back on some of their programs. people were using it and the credit card company was losing too much money.