When an automotive or oil company alleges to be in favor of remedying environmental degradation and climate change, it can cause a few eyebrows to raise.
If your product is causally linked to human induced climate change, should such skepticism be of any surprise?
Despite overt claims to stalwart climate change through company practices, Ford Motor Company was recently exposed for providing funds to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—a tax-exempt organization notorious for their solicitation of climate change denial. ALEC consists of corporate representatives and over 2,000 state legislators who come together to draft laws that serve conservative political motives and corporate interests at the expense of the public. In essence, ALEC functions as a powerful mega lobby by bringing together multiple corporations and lawmakers in an effort to revise existing laws and propose new legislation through private funding.
The organization labels itself as non-partisan; however, ALEC’s work on the ground sings a rather different tune than partisan neutrality. Need proof? Just visit their website. Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is scheduled as the keynote for their winter meeting in a few weeks. Enough said.
Among their laundry list of conservative reforms, ALEC has been actively involved in climate denial. Climate denial goes above and beyond eschewing the internationally held scientific consensus of the existence of human-induced climate change. Climate denial encompasses the active blockading and weakening of policy implementations that address the threat of climate change.
ALEC has promoted a number of climate denial initiatives including efforts to stop Environmental Protection Agency carbon dioxide regulations and the approval of the “Environmental Literacy Improvement Act” which urges states to adopt a “teach both sides” approach to environmental education despite the overwhelming scientific data and generally held consensus of the existence of climate change: “Non-partisan” legislation at its finest.
ALEC also claims that it is “run by and for state legislators.” However, the organization receives 98% of its funding through private entities including global corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. A number of corporations have cut ties to ALEC over the past few years due to their conservative agenda and anti-climate change position. Google, Coca Cola Company, Yahoo, Walmart, and even Shell Oil have recently rescinded their membership and support of ALEC
Ford Motors, however, continues to subsidize ALEC through financial grants. Ford spokesperson Christin Baker confirmed that Ford has supported ALEC through grant titles, further explaining that Ford does not intend for those funds be used in favor of ALEC’s platform on climate denial.
Ford has touted a company philosophy in favor of a reduced carbon footprint—speaking to the seriousness of the issue of climate change. They claim to promote both products and operations that offer “green” solutions such as improved vehicle fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions from their manufacturing facilities.
But is Ford’s enthusiasm for environmental sustainability a sincere company policy or just a crafty marketing strategy? Through Ford’s continued support of ALEC, it seems there is, at the very least, a misalignment of interests. If the car company is to have continued credibility as a corporate proponent of the environment, they should reevaluate their continued funding of ALEC.
It is time for Ford to put their money where their mouth is.