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Ford Funds Climate Change Denial Organization ALEC

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Energy & Environment
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Ford Motor Company touts its environmental initiatives. The iconic car company is proud of its work to increase the fuel economy of its U.S. car and truck fleet and reducing carbon emissions from its European vehicles. It should be proud of those accomplishments. Ford also claims it supports climate change action. But Ford funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that promotes an anti-environment agenda, including climate change denial. While its programs and initiatives back up its claims, Ford's funding of ALEC says otherwise.

A Ford spokesperson, Christin Baker confirmed the company's grant to ALEC. Speaking to the Center for Media and Democracy/PRWatch, Baker denied that the funding was intended to be used by ALEC to stop climate change action. “Ford participates in a broad range of organizations that support our business needs, but no organization speaks for Ford on every issue. We do not engage with ALEC on climate change,” said Baker.

If Ford doesn’t intend for its donation to fund ALEC’s anti-climate change agenda, what’s the big deal? A look at ALEC’s model climate change legislation will answer that question. The Interstate Research Commission on Climatic Change Act is ALEC’s model legislation that is “designed to address scientific and economic aspects of the issue of climatic change through the development of a multistate research commission.” It is meant to for state legislatures, and ALEC wants them to find and declare that “human activity has and will continue to alter the atmosphere of the planet.” However, the activity “may lead to deleterious, neutral, or possibly beneficial climatic changes.”

The model legislation also states that “a great deal of scientific uncertainty surrounds the nature of these prospective changes, and the cost of regulation to inhibit such changes may lead to great economic dislocation.” In other words, it is climate change denial in the form of legislation. And that legislation includes forming a commission who will “support basic research and applied research on climatic change by academic and private organizations.” The Commission will create a “series of guidelines concerning the type of research that will be supported," including research “on the costs and likely success of mitigation of climatic change.” The intention is to cast doubt on whether it is even worth it to mitigate climate change.

ALEC is also opposed to the Obama administration’s regulations of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the Clean Air Act the EPA has developed and finalized rules on GHG emissions. ALEC claims the rules will “dramatically increase energy costs, cause enormous negative impacts to jobs and the economy, irreparably damage the competitiveness of American business, and trample on state sovereignty in the process.”

“Neither Ford nor the auto industry can achieve climate stabilization alone,” Ford proclaims on its website. Reducing GHG emissions requires “an integrated approach--a partnership of all stakeholders, including the automotive industry, the fuel industry, government and consumers.” Given the company’s stated commitment to reducing GHG emissions, it seems crazy for it to fund ALEC. And many major corporations are leaving ALEC over its anti-climate change agenda. Since 2011, over 100 corporations have left ALEC, including BP, Occidental, Yahoo, Visa, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Walmart, and McDonalds.

Meanwhile, the world is nearly halfway to the 2 degrees Celsius global temperature rise that scientists warn we shouldn’t go beyond if we want to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. The U.K.’s Met Office released data this week that revealed the global mean temperature at the earth’s surface is set to reach 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels. At the end of this month, world leaders will meet in Paris for climate talks to hammer out an agreement to keep the temperature rise to 2 degrees.

Given the gravity of the situation, and the increasing temperature rise caused by GHG emissions, it is time for companies like Ford to support climate change action with their deeds and their money. 

Image credit: Beth, Flickr

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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