Hat tip to Kitry for pointing out this long, dispiriting article by Ben Elgin in Business Week:

“Hailed as an environmental pioneer, FedEx says on its Web site that it is ‘committed to the use of innovations and technologies to minimize greenhouse gases.’ [I didn’t find these exact words there, but plenty like them.] With 70,000 ground vehicles and 670 planes burning fuel, the world’s largest shipper is a huge producer of heat-trapping gases. Back in 2003, FedEx announced that it would soon begin deploying clean-burning hybrid trucks at a rate of 3,000 a year, eventually sparing the atmosphere 250,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually from diesel-engine vehicles. ‘This program has the potential to replace the company’s 30,000 medium-duty trucks over the next 10 years,’ FedEx announced at the time. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the effort a Clean Air Excellence prize in 2004.

“Four years later, FedEx has purchased fewer than 100 hybrid trucks, or less than one-third of one percent of its fleet. At $70,000 and up, the hybrids cost at least 75% more than conventional trucks, although fuel savings should pay for the difference over the 10-year lifespan of the vehicles. FedEx, which reported record profits of $2 billion for the fiscal year that ended May 31, decided that breaking even over a decade wasn’t the best use of company capital. ‘We do have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders,’ says environmental director Mitch Jackson. ‘We can’t subsidize the development of this technology for our competitors.'”

If capitalism depends on short-term returns over long-term, we’re in real trouble. Read the whole thing for a quick critique of Renewable Energy Credits as well.