Ford breaks ranks with industry's anti-green campaign

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The Independent Online

By Geoffrey Lean

By Geoffrey Lean

05 December 1999

Ford, the car giant, is to deal a devastating blow to attempts by the motor and oil industry to resist pollution control.

It has decided to leave the Global Climate Coalition, the main industry lobby group campaigning against the introduction of measures to control global warming. It is the first major car company, and the first US multinational, to break ranks in this way and so its move will greatly undermine industry's campaign. The unexpected development, which environmentalists yesterday hailed as "brave", is part of a new greening of the company by chairman William Clay Ford jr, the great-grandson of Henry Ford.

The company has already accepted the threat of global warming and has begun to pioneer ways of cutting car exhaust emissions, one of its main causes. Next year it is to launch a fleet of hydrogen-powered cars in California.

A spokesman said yesterday that the temperature of the earth and the concentrations of the gases that cause global warming are both increasing and that the company believes "that the governments and industry should act straightaway" to address the threat of climate change. He added that membership of the coalition had become "something of an impediment to our ability to move forward credibly with the company's agenda on environmental responsibility".

Shell and BP have already left the coalition, which has spent millions of pounds opposing measures to prevent climate change. Both oil companies combined the move with huge investments to develop renewable, non-polluting sources of energy.

But Ford's defection is a far more serious blow because it strikes at the heart of resistance in American business and in the car industry. It is bound to be attacked by the rest of the industry. Last night Tony Juniper, policy and campaigns director of Friends of the Earth, said that the move could be "the beginning of the end of the industry's campaign against cuts in the gases that cause global warming" and added: "Ford should be congratulated on making a very brave move."