For more information contact:
Stephanie Barnhart, 202-265-6738
Auto Manufacturer Leaves Coalition of Global Warming Skeptics
Ford Motor Company announced Friday that it is leaving the Global Climate Coalition (GCC), the industry-funded lobbying group whose members have spent millions of dollars to convince the public that global warming isn't real and Congress not to do anything about the problem. Ford is the largest American corporation to leave the GCC, following similar actions by British Petroleum and Shell. "This is one of the clearest signs to date that the debate over global warming is coming to a close," said John Passacantando, Executive Director of Ozone Action, "In the same way that the GCC's power over the years has represented industry's unwillingness to acknowledge global warming, its current disintegration is a signal that corporate America is finally recognizing the reality of the threat."

In a letter regarding his company's actions, Bill Ford Jr., Ford's Chairman of the Board, acknowledged the company's intent "to move forward in progressive and constructive ways to address environmental issues." The move positions Bill Ford among the growing ranks of CEO's such as John Browne of British Petroleum, George David of United Technologies, and Mark Moody-Stuart of Shell Oil, who have left the ranks of global warming skeptics to call instead for solutions to the problem. Ford's action is especially significant both because of the size of the company's and its departure from the US auto manufacturers' traditional solidarity in denying the existence or importance of global warming.
Ford's announcement comes at a time when scientific evidence and natural signals point with increasing certainty and urgency to the existence of global warming. The BBC recently reported on the draft release of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's leading body of experts on the issue. (Climate Change Warning - BBC News, 11/18/99) The IPPC's report warns: "entire forest types may disappear" "a net decrease in global biodiversity" will be likely drought and floods "are projected to become a larger problem in many temperate and humid regions" a probable decrease of crop yields in the tropics and subtropics will occur This draft report is reinforced by research released in the latest issue of the journal Science that indicates that the amount of sea ice in arctic waters "is shrinking, on average, by about 14,000 square miles a year." (Arctic Sea Ice Is Rapidly Dwindling - Washington Post,12/2/99).
In the face of such dire warnings from scientists and nature, Ford's actions have given some a sense of hope. "We have all suffered from a decade of lies on global warming from corporate America. Now we finally have Bill Ford Jr., Chairman of one of our country's largest manufacturers, standing up saying that he wants to tell the truth about our most pressing environmental crisis. It makes for a promising end to the century," Passacantando said.
Shareholders are very encouraged by Ford's actions. Dominican Sister Patricia Daly, through her work with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility has led the dialogue with religious institutional shareholders and Bill Ford Jr. since he took over as Chairman of the Board in January. She contends that, "Ford has made a great commitment in their belief that the bottom line must also embrace a responsibility for God's creation. Leaving the GCC is an absolute challenge to other companies; Ford has dared to be consistent on this issue where so many others have not."
The GCC has historically maintained a daunting presence in the global warming debate through the stature of its members and their insistence that there is inadequate scientific certainty to take action. Over the last ten years, its members have contributed more than $63 million dollars to federal candidates and national parties. (Common Cause - "Some Like It Hot," 11/30/99). Ford's contributions over this period are roughly $2 million. The GCC's message has ranged from denial of global warming science ("Certainly Uncertain" - GCC website: to claims that global warming will actually be good for us ("Warmer World May Not Be Bad" - GCC Website).
Recently, the GCC has suffered the loss of some of it's most prominent members. In addition to Ford, both British Petroleum and Shell Oil have left the coalition in the last two years. Shell, in particular cited its desire to "set targets for CO2 emission reductions" as the reason for it's departure from the coalition. (Octane Week, 4/28/98) The actions of BP and Shell, in addition to the growth of the Pew Center on Climate Change, a coalition of Fortune 500 companies that recognize the threat of global warming, caused the Wall Street Journal to recently note "In major corners of corporate America, it's suddenly becoming cool to fight global warming." (Wall Street Journal, 10/18/99)
Student activists in several universities around the country also welcome the action. Bill Holland, of Grinnell College in Iowa said, "Our elected officials have failed to stop global warming because of industry opposition. Maybe now we can move on and actually figure out how to solve this crisis." Grinnell is one of 20 universities nationwide that have launched campaigns calling on their administrations to divest from GCC member corporations in protest to their position on global warming.
When told of the news, many environmental leaders expressed great hope. "The leadership that Ford is demonstrating by leaving the GCC will serve as an example to other companies - that global warming is real and is a serious issue that must be addressed," said Denis Hayes, Chair of Earth Day Network.
Bill Ford Jr. has stated that, "While my great-grandfather (Henry Ford) was a leader in the first industrial revolution, I want Ford Motor Company to be a leader in the second industrial revolution - the Clean Revolution." (Tomorrow - Sept., 1999). With today's withdrawal from the GCC he may have taken the most important step so far in leading his great-grandfather's company down that path.
Ozone Action
1700 Connecticut Ave. NW, Third Floor
Washington, DC 20009