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US electric utilities behind European rivals in cutting emissions

A study of the world’s 20 largest electricity producers by market capitalization found that European utilities, such as Iberdrola of Spain, Enel of Italy and SSE of the UK, were making more progress than US peers in shrinking their carbon footprints.

The report’s authors say it could mean a long term investment risk for US utilities which fail to bridge the gap.

Adam Matthews, co-chair of the Transition Pathway Initiative, which conducted the research, said it would be a mistake for US utilities to take President Trump‘s withdrawal from the Paris agreement ࢀ” and his pledge to revive the US coal industry ࢀ” as a signal to halt their shift towards cleaner sources of power generation.

“A lot of the strategic decisions companies face have a much longer timeframe than Donald Trump’s presidency,” he said. The report, backed by funds including BNP Paribas Asset Management and Legal & General Investment Management, which has $4.5tn of assets under management, was led by academics at the London School of Economics.

Six of the top 20 utilities are already lagging behind the Paris goals: American Electric Power, DTE Energy, Eversource Energy and Xcel of the US, Fortis of Canada, and CLP Holdings of Hong Kong.

The report highlighted that climate change isn’t the sole reason companies should be mindful of reducing emissions, pointing out the falling cost of renewables and technological advances in clean technology.à‚