December 2004

The Pressure in on Automakers to Innovate, Not Litigate

Sacramento, CA— State controller Steve Westly and CalPERS board member Sean Harrigan called on the pension fund to pressure automakers to comply with new California emission standards designed to curb global warming.

In a letter to fellow CalPERS board members, Westly and Harrigan said they were concerned that automobile makers were threatening lawsuits rather than developing cars to meet the growing demand for clean technology.

“We want automakers to tackle the challenge of global warming head-on,” Westly said. “We’re concerned that car companies would rather litigate than innovate to meet California’s new emission standards. Carmakers should put new technology in high gear - not take shareholders on a long and pointless legal detour.”

“I’m deeply concerned that the industry’s plans to fight new auto emission standards in our state could harm the long-term financial interests of shareowners,” Harrigan said. “Auto companies and their shareowners are better served if shareowner dollars are used to comply with these standards rather than fight them. It is in the best interests of the auto industry’s long-term viability, their competitiveness, and the interests of their shareowners.”

Air Resources Board regulations require new cars to meet the standards starting in 2009. The rules provide for a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2016. Assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) wrote legislation making California the first state in the country to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.

States that have adopted or are in the processing of adopting California’s emission regulations, include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and Rhode Island. Combined with California, these states make up approximately 25 percent of new U.S. vehicle sales. These states, along with Canada, are also considering adopting the new greenhouse-gas standards.

Experts also believe that the Kyoto Protocol will increase demand for cars using clean technology. Countries ratifying the protocol account for more than 60 percent of worldwide vehicle sales.


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