GM and Ford Knew of the Impact Cars Had on Climate Change Back in the ‘60s

ICE cars accelerate climate change, and Ford and GM have known this for 5 decades 1 photo
Photo: / JonBonSilver
A new investigation confirms what has been rumored for decades: giant car manufacturers like General Motors and Ford knew about climate change and how their cars contributed to it as early as the ‘60s. And then they ignored or flat-out denied the evidence.
Much like Exxon, both GM and Ford knew about the effects internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and burning of fossil-fuels had on the environment, and how they contributed to climate change. As early as the late 1960s, they had researchers look into the issue, in the hopes that they would find evidence that would prove the exact contrary of that.

Ruth Annette Gabriel Reck led studies for GM, while Gilbert Norman Plass carried out environmental research for Ford. Plass has since passed away, but Reck agreed to be interviewed by E&E News for their investigation, which was carried out over the span of several months and also included reviews of old documents and peer publications, and interviews with former execs and employees.

The findings are unsettling, though probably hardly surprising: both carmakers knew that their cars contributed to climate change and that the issue would become even more serious as production increased. Still, they chose to ignore facts and flat-out deny independently conducted studies. Moreover, for the following decades, they would fund groups and initiatives to distract from or discredit evidence.

Speaking on the findings of the new investigation, GM and Ford chose to point out that they’re currently working toward switching to EVs: Ford is investing $11 billion in electrifying its bestselling vehicles, while GM says it’s taking steps toward reducing emissions, like coming out with the electric Hummer.

“There is nothing we can say about events that happened one or two generations ago since they are irrelevant to the company's positions and strategy today,” GM adds in the statement. No harm, no foul.

This, despite the fact that, GM and the auto industry as a whole “by the 1980s and 1990s, was involved in efforts to undermine climate science and stop progress to address climate change. [Because] a different path was available,” as Carroll Muffett, president and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law, says.

The full investigation is available at E&E News. It is definitely worth a read.
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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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