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Ford to prepare global warming report

Ford Motor Co. said it will prepare a report about how its operations might impact global warming, following complaints from some shareholders that the nation’s second biggest automaker isn’t doing enough.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Ford Motor Co. said it will write a report about global warming, including details on emissions from Ford vehicles and factories, in response to complaints from some shareholders that the nation’s second biggest automaker isn’t doing enough.

A group of environmentally oriented shareholders responded by withdrawing a petition asking Ford to detail how it plans to remain competitive as environmental laws get stricter in California and elsewhere.

Ford plans to complete the report by the end of the year and said it will consult with climate experts in addition to the shareholders.

“We have long identified climate change as a serious environmental issue, and shareholders are increasingly asking about the risks as well as the opportunities associated with it,” Ford chairman and CEO Bill Ford said in a statement Thursday. “It’s time for a broader, more inclusive public dialogue on the complex and important challenge of climate change.”

Sister Patricia Daly, who heads the New Jersey-based Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment and filed the resolution, said she was satisfied with Ford’s action.

“Let’s take on the issues before us and the realities that will be before us in the next couple of decades,” Daly said. “It’s no longer an environmental concern. It’s a business concern, and corporations are starting to understand that.”

Denise Nappier, Connecticut’s state treasurer, said companies must prepare for the financial implications of global warming. Connecticut’s public pension fund also was a party in the resolution.

Ford said the report will analyze climate change issues and look at the potential impact of various government actions. Ford said it already is developing cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles, including hybrids, and will reduce emissions from its manufacturing plants by 14 percent by the end of this year.

Mindy Lubber, president of the Boston-based environmental shareholder group Ceres, said Ford’s report will be the first from an automaker to examine the emissions from its vehicles. Lubber said shareholders have similar resolutions before General Motors Corp., the world’s biggest automaker.

Not all investors are satisfied. At least two groups have no plans to withdraw resolutions that will be up for consideration this year by Ford shareholders. The company plans to hold its annual meeting in May.

Boston-based Green Century Capital Management wants Ford to detail the amount it is spending to lobby against an increase in federal fuel efficiency standards. Bluewater Network, an environmental group based in San Francisco, also has a resolution that calls on Ford to link senior executives’ pay to their performance on global warming issues.

“Ford does nice reports, but they’re still suing California, lobbying against higher federal mileage standards and their new vehicles still create more global warming pollution than any major automaker,” said Russell Long, director of the Bluewater Network.

The Sierra Club also has targeted Ford’s environmental record, particularly after the company decided in 2003 to back off a promised improvement in fuel efficiency. On Thursday, the Sierra Club launched a new campaign to enlist Ford dealers in the effort to make the company’s vehicles more environmentally friendly.