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GE Launches Green Credit Card

GE has launched the GE Money Earth Rewards Platinum MasterCard -? the first consumer finance product in GE’s ecomagination portfolio -? that allows users to reduce their carbon footprint by automatically contributing up to one percent of their card purchases to buy greenhouse gas emissions offsets.

All card rewards designated for GHG reduction projects will be accrued over the year. Each Earth Day, those Rewards will be used to purchase and retire greenhouse gas emissions credits through GE AES Greenhouse Gas Services, a joint venture between GE Energy Financial Services and The AES Corporation, which will identify and invest in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“GE and AES are committed to reducing 10 million metric tons of greenhouse gases each year by 2010 -? equal to taking nearly 1.8 million cars off the road annually,” said Kevin Walsh, Managing Director of Renewable Energy at GE Energy Financial Services. “Earth Rewards card benefits will make a significant down payment toward meeting that goal.”

Consumers can either contribute a full one percent of their card net purchases to GHG emission reduction projects; or contribute 1/2 percent to reduction projects and receive 1/2 percent cash back through their monthly statements (as a statement credit). Cardholders will be able to switch back and forth between reward programs whenever they choose, at no cost and with no loss of rewards.

Environmentalists were not thrilled with the announcement, The New York Times reports. “It’s ironic,” said Michael J. Brune, executive director for the Rainforest Action Network. “G.E. supplies parts for coal-fired plants, so its credit card offsets emissions it helps create.”

Others, according to The Times, worry because G.E. is a big player in carbon offset projects, both directly as an investor and indirectly as a manufacturer of wind turbines and other alternative energy devices.

GE plans no direct mail and will advertise on search engines and on environmental sites.

With the launch, GE joins a growing list of financial companies that have launched green cards. Earlier this month, Barclaycard launched its green credit card Wells Fargo offers a credit card with renewable energy reward options.  Bank of America has announced that it’s planning a green credit card for the U.S. Bright Planet plans to launch a card that cancels out your carbon output.

In The Times article, Matt B. Arnold, a co-founder of Sustainable Finance, a consulting firm, said he knows of five small groups negotiating with banks to offer similar credit cards in the United States. “G.E.’s announcement will probably accelerate those projects,” he said.

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