Global warming is real: In surprise move, automaker says problem calls for quick corporate, political solution

By David Mastio/Detroit News Washington Bureau
Copyright 1998 Detroit News
October 27, 1998

WASHINGTON -- General Motors Corp., in a surprising turnabout, today plans to concede global warming represents a real danger that major corporations and political leaders must quickly resolve.

At a press conference in Washington, GM will join a growing list of the world's corporate elite, including Monsanto Co. and British Petroleum, who recognize their products and manufacturing practices are contributing to a worldwide problem.

In a series of steps, conceived with the environmentalist group The World Resources Institute, GM and other companies are calling for a reduction in "greenhouse" gas emissions and increased efforts to explore ways to keep the carbon dioxide their plants emit out of the atmosphere. The companies signing the "Safe Climate, Sound Business" plan also vowed to contribute to the research and technology needed to prevent temperatures from rising around the globe.

The plan marks the first time one of Detroit's Big Three automakers has signed a pledge accepting global warming as a fact.

"We hope this cooperative effort inspires ... additional business to engage constructively in the climate debate and to undertake similar commitments," said Dennis R. Minano, GM's chief environmental officer.

This month, European automakers, including GM and Ford, agreed with the European Union to decrease their carbon dioxide emissions. Analysts expect the Clinton administration to use that agreement to force similar concessions in the United States.

GM and Monsanto are the 19th and 20th companies to sign on to various corporate-environmental alliances to address global warming. Toyota Motor Corp. is the only other carmaker involved in a similar program with the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Environmentalists, though, expressed skepticism.

"We have seen a trend of Fortune 500 companies agreeing with environmentalists that global warming is a threat, but most of them haven't done anything yet," said Daniel Becker, director of global warming and energy programs at the Sierra Club.

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