General Motors Is Global Warmer Number One

July 30, 2002

(30 July, 2002 — Washington)  A new report issued today by Environmental Defense appraises for the first time the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the new vehicles sold each year by major auto manufacturers.  General Motors’ fleet imposes the largest “carbon burden,” producing 6.7 million metric tons per year.  GM is followed closely by Ford, whose fleet produces 5.6 million tons.  The carbon burden is the total CO2 emitted by a group of vehicles each year and represents their lifetime average global warming impact.  A copy of the report is available at

“Each year automakers roll out fleets of cars and trucks that add increasing amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere,” said Environmental Defense senior fellow John DeCicco, the report’s lead author.  “Over the past decade, they have put their design and marketing talents into anything but addressing their products’ harm to the planet and liability for oil dependence.”

“The U.S. emits more CO2 than any other country in the world.  Transportation is America’s largest source of global warming pollution, and cars and trucks are the largest part of that equation,” said Environmental Defense executive director Fred Krupp.  “As the top producer of CO2-spewing vehicles, GM is ‘global warmer’ number one.  Market success brings with it a proportionate responsibility to apply clean and efficient technology as part of auto industry corporate strategy.” 

While GM and Ford clearly head the pack in terms of total global warming pollution, third-place DaimlerChrysler’s carbon burden at 4.1 million tons has grown more rapidly.  But it is Toyota, whose product line produces 2 million metric tons of carbon annually that posted the most rapid growth in global warming pollution.  Toyota’s carbon burden grew 72% since 1990, compared to 33% growth for the market as a whole.  Entitled Automakers’ Corporate Carbon Burdens, the report uses government data to project the oil consumption and CO2 emissions from each firm’s new vehicle sales and analyzes how these figures evolved between 1990 and 2000. 

“The ‘carbon burden’ concept provides a new way for automakers and policy makers to assess the bottom line of corporate responsibility for protecting Earth’s climate,” DeCicco said.  “Unless there is a change in stance, automotive carbon burdens will continue to rise and so will the risks of unchecked oil demand.  It’s high time for U.S. automakers to take a more constructive approach on this issue.”