DETROIT -- Environmentalists are claiming victory
following General Motors Corp.'s decision
to quit a lobbying group that has led the opposition to a 1997
global warming treaty reached in Kyoto, Japan.
Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler Corp.
GM notified the Washington-based Global Climate Coalition on
Monday that it was ending its membership, GM spokesman Bill
Noack said Tuesday.
''GM's withdrawal ... makes me hopeful that opposition to real
solutions is in permanent decline,'' said John Passacantando,
executive director of Ozone Action.
''As the impacts of global warming worsen, it will take increasing
moral maturity on the part of our corporations and country to rise
to the occasion,'' said Sister Patricia Daly of the Interfaith Center
on Corporate Responsibility. ''General Motors' departure from
the global warming skeptics is a step towards achieving this
GM remains opposed to the Kyoto agreement but acknowledges
that carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere could be changing
the world's climate.
The withdrawal ''really doesn't reflect any change in our
position,'' Noack said from Washington. ''We continue to
oppose the Kyoto Protocol.''
After the GM announcement, coalition Executive Director Glenn
Kelly said the group was restructuring and individual companies
no longer could join. Instead, he said membership would consist
only of trade associations.
Many scientists believe Earth is gradually warming because of
greenhouse gas emissions -- mainly carbon dioxide from
automobiles, factories and power plants.
If ratified by the U.S. Senate, the climate treaty would require
that the United States reduce greenhouse emissions to below
1990 levels by 2008-2012.
Noack said the decision to leave the coalition was a strategic
''Our company has taken more of a global focus,'' he said.
Ford quit the coalition in December, and DaimlerChrysler
followed in January.
When it left, DaimlerChrysler cited possible evidence of global
warming. Ford said the coalition had become an impediment to
pursuing environmental initiatives in a credible way.
Other major companies that have left the group include British
Petroleum, Shell Oil and Dow Chemical.
In its statement, the Global Climate Coalition said its
reorganization was ''part of a long-term initiative to refocus the
public debate on climate policy to the issues at hand - namely, a
policy contest between the unworkable Kyoto Protocol versus a
more pragmatic and viable solution to the climate issue that relies
on technology, innovation and American ingenuity.''
The Kyoto treaty would not impose limits on economically
developing countries such as China and India. Automakers and
the coalition have said that because those countries account for a
significant portion of the world's population, and therefore its
pollution, they also must agree to emissions cuts.
Kelly said prospects for the Kyoto treaty look increasingly bleak,
and the coalition believes the best course is one that emphasizes
technology-based solutions to the climate question.
''We're eager under our new structure to continue working with
the Congress, the administration, and others to continue
advancing those solutions,'' he said.
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