NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- GM ( GM), which returned to being a publicly-traded company Thursday, said its Chevy division was investing $40 million in communities throughout the U.S. to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 8 million metric tons.

"We're not the company we were before," said GM's vice president of U.S. marketing Joel Ewanick during an afternoon conference call. Ewanick said Chevy was making a concerted effort to reach out to the community and to get it involved in its projects.

Missing from the afternoon call was GM CEO Dan Akerson, whose cell phone line was dropped, according to his representatives.

Eban Goodstein, director of the Center for Environmental Policy at Bard College, who is working with GM on its carbon reduction projects, said GM has reduced its carbon footprint by 60% since 1990 and will continue to strive for improvement in this area. So far, it has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into building fuel-efficient cars such as the Chevrolet Cruze Eco.

"Chevy is really making a difference. These projects will strengthen local economies by keeping energy dollars at home," Goodstein said.

Chevy representatives for the $40 million plan said weatherizing local community schools so they spend less on heating and more on educational goals and wind farm projects are among a number of projects they'll be working on.

Chevy's investment will be implemented over the next three to five years.

Shares of GM are up 4.1% to $34.35 in their first day of trading.

-- Written by Andrea Tse in New York.

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