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Tickers in this Article: PBW, GEX, EK, GPS, PFE, PEG, DUK, EXC
With the expiration of the Kyoto environmental protocol, the world is fixed on the talks in Copenhagen. The results could have both positive and negative effects on the way the world does business in regards to the environment. During the Kyoto talks, the United States symbolically signed the treaty, but never ratified the agreement. This year, if a solution to emission and the environment is pledged, it is widely believed that the U.S. will be much more of an active partner in seeing the treaty through. (To learn about the top green industries, check out, Top 10 Green Industries.)

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Our Climate Leaders
One of the side effects of the treaty could be increased legislation and taxation for businesses that do not meet or exceed the standards of the bill. However, there are some companies that have already begun to take the steps necessary to reduce carbon ahead of any legislation.

The Environmental Protection Agency's "Climate Leaders Certification" program allows companies to pledge reduced emissions and helps develop a framework for completing those goals. Companies entering the program perform company-wide inventories of the six major greenhouse gases created from their various activities such as electricity use and transit. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) then helps the company find solutions such as purchasing renewable energy to help reduce these six gases.

So far the program has been fairly successful as 283 different companies have signed up for the challenge, with 28 reaching or exceeding those goals. The EPA estimates that the greenhouse gas reductions by Climate Leaders Partners will prevent more than 50 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year. These reductions are equivalent to removing nine million cars off the road each year.

More importantly, these climate leaders have operations in all 50 states and provide over 8 million jobs worldwide.

Adding the Climate Friendly Companies Now
Many of the corporations who participate in the program are members of the Fortune 1000 and are publically traded. Adding these companies who have already begun to reduce their environmental footprint may make sense as the impact of any sort of major legislation should be lessened.

Eastman Kodak (NYSE:EK) over the past few years has begun the transition from its traditional film roots into a digitally oriented company. During this transition, the company joined the Climate Leaders program and has managed to avoid more than 1.1 million metric tons of CO2emissions. Kodak has achieved a 40% reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions since 2002. More importantly for Kodak and its high debt load, the company has been able to save more than $27 million a year in energy costs, proving that being green can be a green endeavor.

Clothing retailer Gap's (NYSE:GPS) fare seems to be on the rise again and it has been able to weather the recent crisis with its minimal debt balance sheet. The company has also been a top performer in the EPA's program, reducing its energy usage by 8.7% annually. The company recent retrofit of lighting fixtures in its distribution centers saves about $947,000 annually in energy costs.

Since joining the national curriculum for climate change, drug superstar Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) has managed to decrease its annual greenhouse gas footprint has by 18%, the equivalent of more than 750,000 metric tons of emissions. Pfizer estimates that it has saved more than $125 million dollars due to its equipment retrofits, combined heat and power systems, and renewable energy installations.

Even utilities are getting on board the program with Exelon (NYSE:EXC), Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG) and Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) working towards producing energy more efficiently within the EPA's guidelines.

The Bottom Line
The Copenhagen talks are a win for the environment, however there are companies already beginning to take the steps necessary to reduce their emission standards. These companies should escape some of the negative business effects of the treaty. The previous stocks are great examples of how being green can reduce emissions and in turn reduce overall costs. (For tips to build a greener portfolio, check out Green Investors Get Heard.)

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