Will GE inherit Lord Browne’s legacy?

Your post about GE’s new carbon-offset credit card is part of the corporation’s “Ecomagination” program. Its nifty website says that if you download its Ecomagination annual report:

GE will plant one tree in the Alpine forests south of Munich, Germany (home to one of GE’s Global Research Centers). In collaboration with the German Armed Forces and the Bavarian Forestry Commission, GE’s planting will integrate into the landscape, helping strengthen the area’s critical flood protection.

Sounds like GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt is trying to follow in the footsteps of Lord Browne ofMadingley, the former head of BP — “Beyond Petroleum” — whose new chief executive Tony Hayward is trying to fix the problems Browne overlooked in his search for CSR accolades. Here’s how a recent news article noted those problems:

BP has suffered a string of operational problems in recent years, including a fatal explosion at its Texas City refinery, pipeline leaks in Alaska and a delayed start-up at the Thunderhorse oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Things look like they’re changing at BP:

The drive to streamline the head office, in St James’s Square, is part of a cultural shift in which the new chief executive is trying to play down Lord Browne’s emphasis on the environment and refocus BP on profits and operations.


One company official said: “There are many questionable activities which have grown up inside the company in recent years, which are only peripherally connected to making money. We have become like a social organisation. Tony wants to get back to business.”