From: Dee-Ann Durbin, Associated Press
Published December 21, 2005 12:00 AM

Ford Releases Emissions Report, Says More Cooperation Needed

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. said Tuesday it is taking action to reduce harmful emissions from its plants and vehicles, but the automaker said continued progress depends on better collaboration with the oil industry and government, and better education of consumers about their driving habits.


Ford made the comments in a report on its efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions that contribute to global warming. The automaker said its factories produced 8.4 million metric tons of carbon-dioxide emissions worldwide in 2004. A metric ton is equal to 2,204 pounds. The company didn't say how much additional carbon dioxide was released by its vehicles.


Ford wrote the report after a group of environmentally oriented shareholders filed a resolution asking the company to detail its plans to remain competitive as environmental laws get stricter. The shareholder group withdrew the resolution in March after Ford agreed to write the report.


The shareholders, including the Connecticut State Treasurer's Office and the environmental investment group Ceres, said the report is short on specifics, but they praised Ford for recognizing climate change is a serious issue that needs national attention.


"Ford has provided an important service for investors, the auto industry and U.S. citizens by tackling the complexities and challenges of global warming head-on," said Sister Patricia Daly of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the lead filer of the resolution.


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A separate coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Bluewater Network criticized Ford for failing to set new goals to reduce emissions. They pointed out Ford is suing several states to prevent them from adopting tougher vehicle emissions standards.


"Ford is a big part of the global warming problem, but they have failed to adopt more than token solutions," said Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming program.


Niel Golightly, Ford's director of sustainable business strategies, said the company supports tougher standards but doesn't back a state-by-state approach. He added that any solution needs to take into account the carbon content of various fuels and the fuel choices and driving habits of consumers.


"It's a pretty tightly enmeshed sector. To load the responsibility for carbon dioxide reduction and energy efficiency on the oil companies or the auto companies or the consumers alone doesn't make any sense," Golightly said.


Ford said it's the only automaker participating in a voluntary plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions at its North American plants by 6 percent -- or 296,176 metric tons -- between 2003 and 2010. Among the ways Ford is cutting emissions is a patented system that transforms paint fumes into electricity. Ford, which recently installed the system at a truck plant in Michigan, said the system can cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent.


Ford also said it is committed to reducing emissions by producing more hybrid vehicles and vehicles that run on ethanol. Both types of vehicles rely less on traditional gasoline.


Ford said it is willing to take a lead role in discussions between industry and the government on how to lower emissions without unnecessary costs. The company said government incentives could be one way to encourage conservation and the introduction of low-carbon fuels.


It also said it will distribute a training program to its work force that teaches ways to reduce fuel use while driving, such as keeping tires properly inflated.


Kevin Knobloch, president of the environmentally oriented Union of Concerned Scientists, said Ford deserves credit for taking those steps.


"No other auto company has come forward and said, 'There is an impact on our business from climate change and we have a leadership responsibility to address that in an honest dialogue,'" Knobloch said.


Ford shares fell 18 cents to close at $8.05 Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have traded in a 52-week range of $7.57 to $15.


Source: Associated Press


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