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HP promises to cut back on greenhouse gases

Joint effort with World Wildlife Fund calls for the tech giant to make a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

Hewlett-Packard has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions under a joint initiative with the U.S. arm of the World Wildlife Fund.

Under the initiative, announced Wednesday, HP will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent over the next four years at its leased and owned facilities worldwide. The computer maker said it will monitor and report on the results using the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and the World Economic Forum's Global Greenhouse Gas Registry.

These efforts by HP come as it deals with proceedings brought against it by environmental regulatory agencies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as the "Superfund" act, and similar state laws.

"HP is also conducting environmental investigations and remediations at several current or former operating sites, pursuant to administrative orders or consent agreements with state environmental agencies," according to HP's latest quarterly financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. "It is our policy to apply strict standards for environmental protection to sites inside and outside the United States, even if not subject to regulations imposed by local governments."

The joint partnership has no relationship to the proceedings with the various state and federal environmental regulatory agencies, and were not part of any settlement with those agencies, said Robert Parkhurst, global environmental program manager at HP.

"A lot of the CERCLA proceedings deal with past actions. This partnership is about our focus going forward," Parkhurst said.

As part of its joint initiative with the WWF, the company will fund a project to study the effects of climate change on the wildlife and habitats of North America's Bering Sea. HP will also work with the WWF on educational efforts addressing climate change.

The project also calls for HP to work with the WWF to improve the energy efficiency of its products and to establish goals for this, in addition to publicly reporting on the results of those efforts.

"We regard WWF as a worldwide leader in environmental conservation efforts, and undertaking these projects with them as positive and innovative steps in HP's longstanding commitment to global citizenship and the environment," Pat Tiernan, HP's vice president for corporate, social and environmental responsibility, said in a statement.

Corporate America is increasingly coming under pressure from shareholders who want improvements in environmental practices and policies.

The issue of chemicals used to create various technological products by companies, as well as their disposal, has increasingly become a concern among environmental regulators, environmentalists and shareholders. In August, for example, PC makers Apple Computer and Lenovo were taken to task in a report by Greenpeace on toxic chemicals used in the technology industry.