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Ford Responds To Climate Change Concerns

Topics:  Ford Motor Company

Ford Responds To Climate Change Concerns

Anthony Fontanelle
April 25, 2007

The Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said last Monday that global warming is real, manmade and caused in part by auto emissions. "The vast majority of data indicates that the temperature has increased, and I believe the correlation and the analysis says that is mainly because of the greenhouse gases keeping the heat in. You can just plot it with the Industrial Revolution and the use of all of our resources," he said during a telephone press conference.

The conference was called to announce the promotion of Susan Cischke to the newly created post of senior vice president which is responsible for the company’s sustainability, environment and safety engineering. The move, according to Mulally, was meant to underscore the importance of this issue to Ford's corporate strategy. "It's about sustainability, it's about mobility, it's about safety, it's about (being) stewards of our environment," he said. "This is the biggest agenda we have at Ford. I think it's going to be one of the most important considerations to the customers that buy our products and services going forward."

Detroit automakers have recognized that climate change is a serious issue that must be addressed. But Mulally's statement was one of the clearest. "I'm just gratified that it seems like, in the court of public opinion, we have moved to the place where we all are starting to appreciate and agree that this really is an issue, and that we all want to do something about it," he said. The statement was reiterated last Monday afternoon in an e-mail addressed to Ford employees.

The letter said, “I firmly believe we are at an inflection point in the world's history as it relates to climate change and energy security. The time for debating whether climate change is real has past. It is time for a conversation about what we, as a society, intend to do to address it.”

To that end, the CEO said that Cischke will oversee a company-wide effort to create a greener Ford. "It's the product development side, it's the manufacturing piece, it's the supplier community - it's a lot of things. It also includes the working conditions aspect, the human rights issue. It's balancing the people side of it as well as the economic side and the environmental side and trying to figure out how it fits together," said Cischke, Ford's former vice president of environmental and safety engineering. "While we have a clear picture of where we'd like to be in the next five to seven years, I've got to look beyond that.”

While environmentalists are positive about Mulally's openness on global warming, some criticized his choice to lead Ford's environmental efforts. "We're a little concerned. Sue Cischke has been Ford's public face for fighting a lot of things that would help stop global warming," said the Sierra Club's Brendan Bell. "Clearly, there is a desire at certain levels of Ford's management to promote sustainability. But they're much better at creating new positions than new policies." Some analysts think that Ford should have the efficiency of its EBC brake rotors in order to be good at braking and avoiding empty promises that have ruined enthusiasts’ trust in the past.

Also Monday, General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said that the U.S. government needs to take a Manhattan Project-like approach to creating a national energy policy, bringing the best minds in the country to bear on the issue of energy sustainability and independence.

Mulally added increasing those regulations only makes sense as part of a broader solution to global warming, one that includes sacrifices by other industries. "We're only going to make the progress we all want to make if we move this up to include the generation of all energy, as well as the use of the energy.”

While GM has suggested more research needs to be done into the causes of global warming, the company said it is not waiting for the answer. "We're not waiting for the scientific community to finish its discussion on the specifics of climate change," said GM spokesman Greg Martin. "As we've said from L.A. to Capitol Hill, we see it as both a business necessity and as our obligation to society to develop advanced technologies that run on diverse sources of energy to lessen the automobile's impact on the environment."

Source:  Amazines.com

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