Ford Motor Co. said yesterday that it is resigning from a coalition of oil companies, automakers, electric utilities and others opposed to the Kyoto Treaty, an international agreement to reduce emissions from fossil fuels that have been blamed for global warming.
The company advised the Global Climate Coalition--a Washington-based group that argues there isn't enough evidence of global warming--that it would not renew its membership. A Ford spokesman said the company is still opposed to the Kyoto Treaty but believes that there is evidence of global warming and that companies should work together to reduce carbon emissions.
The resignation from the GCC is in keeping with a strategy launched by Ford Chairman William Clay Ford Jr. and Jacques A. Nasser, the company's chief executive, to improve the company's image on environmental issues.
Both executives have vowed to cooperate with environmental initiatives whenever practicable, and to remove their company from the ranks of automakers and other businesses that traditionally oppose environmental and related regulations.
"We believe that some things can be done [to improve the environment] and we will work to do those things whenever possible," Ford said in a recent interview.
The resignation of a major U.S. manufacturing company was a blow to the Global Climate Coalition, one of the highest profile opponents of the Kyoto Treaty. BP Amoco Corp. and Royal Dutch/Shell Group previously had resigned from the coalition--but both companies are based in Europe, where environmental concerns traditionally have more sway among corporate leaders. Dow Chemical Co. also has resigned.
Supporters of the treaty immediately hailed Ford's move as a major coup. "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," said John Passacantando, executive director of the environmental group Ozone Action.
Connie Holmes, senior vice president of the National Mining Association and the head of the GCC, which has more than 40 corporate members, said she was surprised by Ford's decision but played down its significance.
"We're quite disappointed that they chose to go on their own way," she said. "It's clearly up to them, but I'm sure that we're not that far apart on any of the issues that matter."