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GM and Ford knew about climate change 50 years ago, according to the Energy Trade



GM President Mark Royce talks about plans for all-electric SUVs and pickups at the Detroit-Hamtramk assembly plant in January.

AFP via Getty Images

Scientists from two of America’s major carmakers knew back in the 1960s that emissions from cars and trucks were causing climate change, but internal research was stifled as funding to undermine environmental causes continued, a month-long energy investigation found. commercial edition E&E News.

Environmental data raised the ranks of General Motors Corp. GM,
-2.74%
and Ford Motor Co. F,
-1.59%
Instead, it was transformed into political lobbying for decades by the two car giants, which undermined global attempts to reduce heat capture emissions. The two carmakers have joined a wave of corporations in recent months in setting zero-emission target dates for decades to come, while embracing growing customer demand for electric vehicles.

A GM scientist in the 1960s presented his findings to at least three high-level executives at the company, including a former chairman and CEO. It is unclear whether such warnings have reached the highest class in Ford, the report said.

“We also know that the automotive industry was certainly involved in efforts to undermine climate science and halt progress in tackling climate change in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Carol Muffett, president and CEO. of the Center for International Environmental Law, in the article. “But there was a different way.”


“We also know that in the 1980s and 1990s, the car industry certainly took part in efforts to undermine climate science and halt progress in the fight against climate change. But there was a different way. ‘


– Carol Muffett, President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law

At the time, companies were investing heavily in truck and SUV-hungry vehicles, which remained popular in the new millennium.

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It was not until 1996 that GM produced its first commercial electric vehicle, called the EV1. In 1998, Ford launched a compact electric pickup.

E&E News received hundreds of pages of documents on GM’s corporate history from the General Motors Heritage Center and Wayne State University in Detroit. Documents for Ford’s climate research were discovered by the Center for International Environmental Law. The Climate Investigation Center provided additional materials for both manufacturers.

The discovery is reminiscent of reports from five years ago, which revealed the level of knowledge about the impact of global climate change within Exxon Mobil XOM,
-2.37%,,
spawning the #ExxonKnew campaign.

Read: Here are two stocks that will benefit from the boost of electric vehicles in California

Earlier this year, GM CEO Mary Barra pledged to use 100% renewable energy in all of its facilities in the United States by 2030 and in all of its global facilities by 2040.

There is a business motivation to switch from fossil fuels as well. Earlier this month, GM said it would renovate a Tennessee plant to build the new electric Cadillac Lyriq. This will be the company’s third production site for electric vehicles. GM also introduced its all-electric Hummer.

For its part, Ford said in June that it is committed to being carbon neutral by 2050 and will reduce global carbon dioxide levels by 18% from 2019 to 2023. It will switch to 100% renewable energy from local sources in their manufacturing facilities by 2035. Ford has said it will sell its own all-electric F-150 pickup within two years.


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