GM’s ‘Carbon Neutral’ Plans Fall Short

January 29 2021

GM’s ‘Carbon Neutral’ Plans Fall Short

Automaker needs to reform its lobbying practices if it’s serious about climate change

General Motors’ plan to go carbon neutral by 2040 is a positive sign the car maker is taking climate change more seriously, but it fails to make any reference to its own corporate lobbying practices which have consistently tried to block or water down effective policy.

GM says it is “joining governments” to “establish a safer, greener and better world”. However, ongoing research by InfluenceMap shows the carmaker has been working against strong government action on climate change.

The company has a history of negative lobbying on regulation within the transport sector, particularly around Obama-era Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) regulations in the US, which it lobbied to weaken during the Trump Administration.

GM also pushed for a flawed national zero emissions vehicle program with less ambitious targets than already existed within state-level schemes.

In addition, the carmaker joined legal action in support of the Trump Administration in its attempt to remove California’s Clean Air Act waiver. Even though it has subsequently withdrawn from the litigation as of last year, GM is yet to provide any indication its position on CAFE and GHG standards has materially changed.

The carmaker also retains memberships to regressive trade associations, many of which have been key in opposing climate regulation in the US, including the National Association of Manufacturers and Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

"If General Motors is serious about meeting science-based climate targets, it needs to overhaul its corporate lobbying behavior to match," InfluenceMap auto lobbying analyst, Danny Magill, said.

"We have seen top-line statements in support of climate action from GM before, but there has been little to no change in how the company engages in policy debates. It's now up to the company to prove that this latest announcement is matched with a real commitment to act in line with Paris Agreement climate goals."

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Simon Cullen, Communications Manager simon.cullen( @ )