INDUSTRY DEFECTIONS DECIMATE GLOBAL CLIMATE COALITION
In early March, the Global Climate Coalition, the main industry lobby group against meaningful climate action, announced it was restructuring in the wake of wholesale defections by auto and oil interests.
(The history and membership of the GCC is posted at the bottom of these stories.)
Between December, 1999 and early March, 2000, the GCC was deserted by Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Texaco, the Southern Company and General Motors. While many of the defecting companies said their anti-Kyoto posture had not changed, this was a major blow to a 10-year campaign by oil, coal and automotive interests to prevent public action to address the climate crisis.
In a statement, the Global Climate Coalition announced in mid-March that it was restructuring as an umbrella group for trade associations -- rather than individual companies.
Given the inclusion in its membership of the American Petroleum Institute, the American Automobile Manufacturers Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Mining Association and Western Fuels, individual companies may continue to work through their trade associations to undermine diplomatic climate talks, finance campaigns of legislators who are antagonistic to climate activists and lobby against significant action.
The defeat of the Global Climate Coalition reflects, among other things, a student divestiture campaign which urged universities to divest their holdings in companies that belonged to the GCC. It also represents a sustained effort by the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility, which has mounted shareholder actions against a number of intransigent corporations.
Regardless of the next effort at obstruction and public confusion, the effective gutting of the GCC represents a sea change in the American political landscape on the issue of climate change.
A few press accounts follow:
Texaco Leaves Anti-Kyoto Coalition
March 1, 2000
Texaco said yesterday it is withdrawing from the Global Climate Coalition, a business group that opposes the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change's approach to fighting global warming.
Texaco's defection from the group is the first by a major U.S. oil company. The company said it was not leaving because of any fundamental differences of opinion but because it wanted to speak for itself on global warming. Texaco spokeswoman Faye Cox: "We do agree with the members of the coalition that the Kyoto protocol ... is not going to responsibly address the goal of controlling greenhouse gas emissions."
Texaco's exit follows similar defections by auto giants Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler. Other major oil companies have also withdrawn from the coalition, including the European-based Royal Dutch/Shell Group and BP Amoco, who left in 1997 and 1998 (Reuters/Houston Chronicle, Feb. 29).
Environmentalists praised the recent defections. Christopher Ball of the DC-based Ozone Action: "It seems like lying about global warming has finally fallen out of fashion in corporate America" (Group release, Feb. 28).
But GCC executive director Glenn Kelly pointed out that none of the companies that have left the coalition have "struck a position that differs from the GCC" and that all continue to oppose the Kyoto protocol. Kelly: "That's not much of a victory for any pressure group to take to the bank."
Texaco Leaves Global Warming Skeptics
Company joins growing ranks of industry acknowledging global warming
Dow Jones Newswires, March, 2000
Texaco announced this week that they will be joining the parade of companies leaving the Global Climate Coalition (GCC). This industry-funded lobbying group has spent millions of dollars to convince the public that global warming isn't a threat while lobbying Congress not to take constructive action to prevent global warming.
Texaco is the first major US Oil Company to leave the GCC. Recent departures include Daimler Chrysler and Ford Motor Company, which said that membership in the GCC was "something of an impediment to pursuing our environmental initiative in a credible way."
The announcement comes after years of dialogue between Texaco and religious shareholders with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility who urged the company to take a more responsible stance on global warming. In a letter to shareholder Harry Van Buren of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Texaco Secretary Michael Rudy stated, "our withdrawal from the GCC is based on our belief that Texaco can and should speak for itself or through broader-based organizations on the important subject of climate change."
Van Buren said, "The shareholders are encouraged by this positive step forward, away from a membership that is inconsistent with a responsible position on this issue." The GCC has historically maintained a high profile in the global warming arena through the stature of its members and their investment of over $63 million in political contributions over the last decade (Common Cause, "Some Like it Hot", November 30, 1999). The GCC position that there is inadequate scientific certainty regarding global warming to warrant decisive action is increasingly controversial in a political season where all of the major presidential candidates have recognized the importance of dealing with the issue.
Texaco's announcement coincides with the release of research to be Published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters on March 1 that found that The earth is now warming at unprecedented rates. The study, done by Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, shows that Since 1976, temperatures have been increasing at the rate of four degrees per century. Tom Karl, the lead scientist on the study, noted that there is only a 5 percent chance that such temperatures would not be part of a warming trend.
The growing scientific evidence, combined with increasing calls for Action on global warming by students, mayors, and others have led British Petroleum/Amoco, Shell Oil, Ford Motor Company, and Daimler Chrysler to all leave the GCC over the last two years. "Remaining corporations such as Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and General Motors will clearly face growing public pressure as it becomes harder to justify spending corporate money on a coalition that fights efforts to stop global warming, " said Christopher Ball, Director of Outreach for Ozone Action. "It seems like lying about global warming has finally fallen out of fashion in corporate America."
GM Quits Global Warming Lobby Group, Joining Ford, Daimler
Dow Jones Newswires, March 15, 2000
Environmentalists are claiming victory following General Motors Corp.'s (GM) decision to quit a lobbying group that has led the opposition to a 1997 global warming treaty reached in Kyoto, Japan.
Ford Motor Co. (F) and DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX) withdrew earlier,as did Texaco and the Atlanta-based Southern Company.
GM notified the Washington-based Global Climate Coalition on Monday that it was ending its membership, GM spokesman Bill Noack said Tuesday.
"GM's withdrawal ... makes me hopeful that opposition to real solutions is in permanent decline," said John Passacantando, executive director of Ozone Action.
"As the impacts of global warming worsen, it will take increasing moral maturity on the part of our corporations and country to rise to the occasion," said Sister Patricia Daly of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility. "General Motors' departure from the global warming skeptics is a step towards achieving this maturity."
GM remains opposed to the Kyoto agreement but acknowledges that carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere could be changing the world's climate.
The withdrawal "really doesn't reflect any change in our position," Noack said from Washington. "We continue to oppose the Kyoto Protocol."
After the GM announcement, coalition Executive Director Glenn Kelly said the group was restructuring and individual companies no longer could join. Instead, he said membership would consist only of trade associations.
Many scientists believe Earth is gradually warming because of greenhouse gas emissions - mainly carbon dioxide from automobiles, factories and power plants.
If ratified by the U.S. Senate, the climate treaty would require that the United States reduce greenhouse emissions to below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. Noack said the decision to leave the coalition was a strategic one. "Our company has taken more of a global focus," he said.
Ford quit the coalition in December, and DaimlerChrysler followed in January.
When it left, DaimlerChrysler cited possible evidence of global warming. Ford said the coalition had become an impediment to pursuing environmental initiatives in a credible way.
Other major companies that have left the group include BP Amoco PLC (BPA), Shell Oil and Dow Chemical Co. (DOW). In its statement, the Global Climate Coalition said its reorganization was "part of a long-term initiative to refocus the public debate on climate policy to the issues at hand - namely, a policy contest between the unworkable Kyoto Protocol versus a more pragmatic and viable solution to the climate issue that relies on technology, innovation and American ingenuity."
The Kyoto treaty wouldn't impose limits on economically developing countries such as China and India. Automakers and the coalition have said that because those countries account for a significant portion of the world's population, and therefore its pollution, they also must agree to emissions cuts.
Kelly said prospects for the Kyoto treaty look increasingly bleak, and the coalition believes the best course is one that emphasizes technology-based solutions to the climate question.
"We're eager under our new structure to continue working with the Congress, the administration, and others to continue advancing those solutions," he said.
Since December, Ford, Daimler/Chrysler, Texaco, Southern Co. and now GM have quit the Global Climate Coalition. Oddly enough, the GCC claims to be "re-structuring."
GM Quits Global Warming Lobby Group
Associated Press,March 15, 2000
DETROIT--AP-- Environmentalists are claiming victory following General Motors Corp.'s decision to quit a lobbying group that has led the opposition to a 1997 global warming treaty reached in Kyoto, Japan.
The withdrawal "really doesn't reflect any change in our position," GM's Robert Noack said from Washington. "We continue to oppose the Kyoto Protocol." Noack said the decision to leave the coalition was a strategic one.
DaimlerChrysler Quits Global Climate Coalition
AP – Jan. 7, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) - Jan. 7, 2000 DaimlerChrysler Corp. says there may be evidence of global warming and has joined other companies in quitting a lobbying group opposed to the Kyoto climate treaty.
The Global Climate Coalition is a Washington-based group that argues there is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm serious warming of the earth due to so-called greenhouse gases. The coalition has more than 40 corporate members, including oil companies and General Motors Corp.
DaimlerChrysler, which withdrew Thursday, is the latest example of a company quitting the coalition to demonstrate sensitivity to environmental issues.
Ford Motor Co. quit last month. Company officials said the group had become an impediment to pursuing environmental initiatives in a credible way. Other major companies that have left the group include British Petroleum, Shell Oil and Dow Chemical.
"There may be cause for concern about global warming," said Nicole Solomon, a DaimlerChrysler spokeswoman.
Many scientists believe Earth is gradually warming because of greenhouse gas emissions - mainly carbon dioxide from automobiles, factories and power plants.
GCC spokesman Frank Maisano said he was not surprised by the departure since Chrysler Corp. was acquired last by the German automaker, Daimler-Benz. European automakers have traditionally tried to appear environmentally friendly. "They're a European company. They have different pressures and responsibilities politically and in society," Maisano said.
Environmental groups applauded DaimlerChrysler's move.
Chrysler and Ford have not changed their position on the Kyoto accord. They are opposed, as is the GCC. And Ford and Chrysler favor working with other companies on technology-based solutions, also a position taken by the GCC.
If ratified by the U.S. Senate, the 1997 climate treaty reached in Kyoto, Japan, would require that the United States reduce greenhouse emissions to below 1990 levels by 2008-2012.
The treaty would not impose limits on economically developing countries such as China and India. Automakers and the coalition say that because those countries account for a significant portion of the world's population, and therefore its pollution, they also must agree to emissions cuts.
GLOBAL CLIMATE COALITION HISTORY AND MEMBERSHIP
One of the most influential groups in attacking the science, economics and diplomatic foundations underlying the climate crisis is: The Global Climate Coalition -- the main lobbying arm of the oil, automotive and heavy manufacturing sectors in the arena of climate change.
As of May 1998, the membership of the Global Climate Coalition, according to Blair Henry of The Northwest Council on Climate Change:
Summary of Global Climate Coalition Activities: 1996-1997
From Ozone Action, March 1998
To date, the political agenda of the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) has been to stall action on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The GCC is a coalition of business trade associations and private companies and its board members include: American Forest & Paper, Chevron, Exxon, Ford, General Motors, Mobil, National Mining Association and Texaco. The general membership includes Amoco, BP, Dow, Goodyear, Shell, and Union Carbide. During the last two years, the GCC has tried to undermine the broad scientific consensus that climate change is a legitimate threat, has spent large sums of money on public relations that has confused the public while directly lobbying governments to ignore the threat of climate disruption.
Fall 1997: Advertising Campaign and Lobbying
In August 1997, the newly appointed Executive Director of the GCC, Gail McDonald, formed zeros with her fingers when asked what the GCC would like to see happen in Kyoto. (New York Times 8/5/97) Shortly thereafter, the GCC launched a $13 million advertising campaign in the US against any agreement aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions internationally. This was run through an organization called the Global Climate Information Project, which was sponsored by both the GCC and the American Association of Automobile Manufacturers, among others. The advertisements falsely claimed "It's Not Global and It Won't Work." They also claimed that "Americans will pay the price. . . 50 cents more for every gallon of gasoline." Ironically, there was no treaty at that point, and no government proposals, then or now, have suggested a "50 cent" gallon gas tax.
1996-1997: Science Distortion
Before August 1997, the GCC largely focused on creating confusion in the general public about the state of science. Despite the fact that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has provided more information about climate change than has ever been known about any previous global threat, the GCC has been unrelenting in its attacks on the IPCC process and the scientists themselves. The IPCC is comprised of about 2,500 scientists from all over the world and provides the most authoritative and rigorous assessments, based only on peer-reviewed literature of the science of climate change. The GCC's premise was that until there was "certainty," we should do nothing. For example, William O'Keefe, former Vice President of the American Petroleum Institute and Chairman of the GCC, stated on June 28, 1996 that "we could wait 20 to 25 years to take action until scientific uncertainty is lessened."
Since "scientific certainty" is central to the GCC's strategy of stalling action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to address it in this discussion. If the world waits until it has perfect confidence, it will be too late to prevent the consequences of global climate change. So, it is not a question of certainty but rather, an analysis of the probability of severe consequences from human induced climate change. Similar probability analyses have guided the public health responses to other threats that invariably involve uncertainty like the threats from tobacco, asbestos, lead and air pollution. With climate change, an overwhelming majority of scientists have concluded that there is a very high probability that climate change is already underway due to the burning of fossil fuels and there are several important certainties:
1. The surface of the earth is warming. 1997 was the hottest year on record. Nine of the eleven hottest years on record were in the last decade.
2. The concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing. These concentrations are currently at approximately 380 parts per million by volume (ppmv). Pre-industrial levels were approximately 260 ppmv.
3. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere.
The GCC claims that "science must serve as the foundation for overall global climate policy decisions and enhanced scientific research must be the first priority. A bedrock principle addressing global climate change issues is that science - not emotional or political reactions -- must serve as the foundation for global climate policy decisions." In direct contradiction to these lofty goals, the GCC and individual members have provided public platforms for the handful of scientists who are skeptical of the consensus that there is a human influence on the global climate. These scientists generally do not participate in the accepted process of publishing research in refereed journals in order to test hypotheses and conclusions. The also generally do not have expertise in the topic. However, the GCC has gone even further than just providing public relations services for these skeptic scientists. They've also attacked credible and preeminent expert scientists.