A Way Forward for US Auto Blues and the Climate: Ford and Chevron?

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As the US auto industry faces its darkest days yet, one of the big three, Ford, stands apart from GM and Chrysler. Besides not needing the amount of government cash to prevent bankruptcy, Ford has a different story to tell.

Ford's Executive Chairman Bill Ford tried when he was CEO (2001 to 2006) to move the behemoth toward the 21st century with everything from more sustainable manufacturing in the form of the US Green Building Council LEED certified Rouge River Plant in Detroit, to the introduction of an electric prototype and an SUV hybrid, the Escape. Hydrogen fuel cell research also increased significantly during his CEO tenure.

 

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Bill Ford stepped down from his CEO office after poor short term financial performance and shareholders revolted against his green agenda. Ford, grandson of the firm's founder, kept pushing the company and the US auto industry to move toward an electric fleet. He has met with Barack Obama during the campaign and after Obama's election, looking at a long term horizon of climate change regulations and oil price and supply volatility.  

Then there's the GM Hummer. It follows that GM's vice chairman this year insultingly denied the existence of global climate change. Chrysler has also ignored changing consumer desires for higher fuel efficiency and continued putting out gas-guzzling dinosaurs

On the energy side of the equation, Chevron has come out with a surprising advertising campaign advocating that people drive less, and provides tips on how to use less gas. They also feature articles and discussions on coming energy problems, including oil supply challenges.

Advising people to drive less is a tact that not even any major politicians were brave enough to take during the campaign season when gas prices broke $4 a gallon, which was partially because of the inability of global supplies to keep up with growing oil demand.  

Now a worldwide recession has cut demand for gas, and oil and gas price outrage has come way down. Yet Chevron is continuing its clever campaign. That's smart, not only because of worsening global climate change, but also because The International Energy Agency and the CEO of Shell have said this year that oil prices will go up again in the future as supplies will not be able to keep pace with new (post-recovery) demand.

Looks like two American corporations are truly thinking about the future beyond their own balance sheets, and we all may benefit from it.  

 

 

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About the Author

    Warren Karlenzig
Warren
Warren Karlenzig, Common Current founder and president, has worked with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (lead co-author United Nations Shanghai Manual: A Guide to Sustainable Urban Development in the 21st Century, 2011); United Nations Center for Regional Development (training of mayors from 13 Asian nations on city sustainable economic development and technology); provinces of Guizhou and Guangdong, China (urban sustainability master planning and green city standards); the United States White House and Environmental Protection Agency (Eco-Industrial Park planning and Industrial Ecology primer); the nation of South Korea ("New Cities Green Metrics"); The European Union ("Green and Connected Cities Initiative"); the State of California ("Comprehensive Recycling Communities" and "Sustainable Community Plans"); major cities; and the world's largest corporations developing policy, strategy, financing and critical operational capacities for 20 years.

Present and recent clients include the Guangzhou Planning Agency; the Global Forum on Human Settlements; the Shanghai 2010 World Expo Bureau; the US Department of State; the Asian Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainability; the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; the non-governmental organization Ecocity Builders; a major mixed-use real estate development corporation; an educational sustainability non-profit; and global corporations. Read more here.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Warren Karlenzig published on December 3, 2008 9:28 AM.

Mountain Biking Where it Began: Marin County Turkey Day Ride was the previous entry in this blog.

California's Climate Change AB 32 Approved: Blueprint for Obama? is the next entry in this blog.

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