PC(USA) investing group and others urging GM to adopt clean vehicle goals

 

While most automakers agree to compromise with California and other states, GM is a holdout 

by Rich Copley | Presbyterian News Service

General Motors’ world headquarters is in the Renaissance Center in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of Yavno | Wikimedia)

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Committee on Mission Responsibility through Investing  is joining with New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and a coalition of 25 major investors in calling on General Motors to join its peers in a compromise agreement with California and other states for clean vehicle standards.

The letter comes in the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s proposal last year to roll back clean vehicle standards. The Obama-era regulations included goals such as average fuel economy of 50 miles-per-gallon or better in passenger vehicles by 2025.

California has stated its intention under the 1970 Clean Air Act to maintain its own standards, and other states are following suit. The Trump administration is challenging California’s authority to enforce its own standards.

Automakers have largely agreed to a compromise with California, setting standards that are not as strict as the Golden State and Obama-era goals, but are tougher than the Trump administration proposal. General Motors (GM) has gone back-and-forth, according to a press release from the office of the NYC comptroller, initially lobbying for the rollbacks but then siding with other automakers after significant investor engagement. The company, however, failed to join Ford, BMW, Honda, and Volkswagen in the compromise agreement with California, supported by 13 states that make up 37 percent of the U.S. auto market.

“We urge you to join this compromise agreement, which is consistent with General Motors Company’s (GM’s) call for a national solution, continuously improving fuel economy, and its stated goal of moving toward zero emissions,” the Oct. 7 letter from the New York comptroller to GM CEO Mary T. Barra states. “It would also enable GM to avoid significant regulatory uncertainty, bifurcated market, and litigation delay.”

The letter has 22 signatories, including the Presbyterian Committee for Mission Responsibility Through Investing (MRTI) and several other faith-based entities. Click here to read the letter.

“Our denomination has made clear through policy statements its concern for the transportation sector’s impact on the climate crisis,” said Rob Fohr, Director of Faith-Based Investing and Corporate Engagement at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “The compromise solution with California is a step in the right direction and will enable GM to avoid regulatory uncertainty. We urge GM to follow the lead of Ford, BMW, Honda and VW and join the compromise.”

Stringer said, “In New York City, we know that a sustainable planet and a secure retirement go hand in hand. As an investor in GM and other U.S. automakers, I am deeply concerned with the fallout of President Trump’s proposed rollback because it would undermine the U.S. auto industry and result in increased emissions at a moment when we need bold action on climate. General Motors can choose to help lead the U.S. auto sector into the 21st century or help President Trump drag it backwards while the rest of the world speeds ahead. I, and many other investors, urge them to stand up for our planet and our future. They should join the compromise agreement, without delay.”

MRTI implements the General Assembly’s policies on socially responsible investing (also called faith-based investing) by engaging corporations in which the church owns stock. This is accomplished through correspondence, dialogue, voting shareholder proxies and recommending similar action to others, and occasionally filing shareholder resolutions. The General Assembly’s investment policy identifies specific concerns that MRTI is to promote: pursuit of peace; racial, social and economic justice; environmental responsibility; and securing women’s rights. MRTI prioritizes issues on these concerns from requests by ecumenical partners, mid councils and congregations.

 

 

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