Analysts Warn Automakers of Coming Climate-Change Risks

If one thing catches the attention of a large corporation — actually, strike the “if” — it is the risk of declining profits. So it may be that U.S. automakers will have to take global warming seriously after all. A recent report from financial analysts at the investment group Sustainable Asset Management and the enviro-policy shop World Resources Institute claims that automakers in general, and Ford and General Motors in particular, are at risk from the “carbon intensity” of their operations. The analysts noted two trends: First is the growing worldwide pressure to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by raising fuel-economy standards, with regulations already underway in Europe, China, and California. The second is pressure inside the U.S. to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources (read: oil). While Honda and Toyota are well-placed to weather the storm, Ford and GM, with their market reliance on gas-guzzling light trucks, are not. Ford welcomed the report and pledged to put eco-friendliness top on their list of priorities; GM mostly kvetched.