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GE's Immelt: Green talk too 'elitist', 'precious' for public

GE's Immelt: Green talk too 'elitist', 'precious' for public

Posting in Energy

GE CEO Jeff Immelt wishes he had spent less time talking about the green benefits of his company's technologies and more about the jobs they would create.

General Electric chief executive Jeff Immelt said on Tuesday that he wishes he had spent less time talking about the green benefits of his company's technologies and more about the jobs they would create.

Speaking at an event sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Immelt -- advisor to U.S. president Barack Obama on the issue of jobs creation -- said his company's wind turbines, jet engines, high-speed trains and energy-efficient appliances resonate more with the public in economic terms.

Reuters' Scott Malone reports:

If I had one thing to do over again I would not have talked so much about green. Even though I believe in global warming and I believe in the science ... it just took on a connotation that was too elitist; it was too precious and it let opponents think that if you had a green initiative, you didn't care about jobs. I'm a businessman. That's all I care about, is jobs.

Of course, GE's Ecomagination initiative touts the environmental benefits, such as carbon emissions savings, that such technologies would enable.

Perhaps the company should instead frame the program in terms of the 10 million to 15 million new jobs worldwide that the loose collection of industries known as "cleantech" would create, Immelt said -- or just stop talking at all, Immelt said.

I'm kind of over the stage of arguing for a comprehensive energy policy. I'm back to keeping my head down and working.

GE's Immelt wishes he had soft-pedaled green talk [Reuters]

Photo: GE/Flickr

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure