WASHINGTON - Three dozen auto industry leaders joined forces last week to urge the Clinton administration to abide by a Senate resolution on global warming.
The nonbinding measure opposes a proposed international treaty that would commit the United States and other developed countries to limits on greenhouse gases while exempting so-called developing nations. The Senate measure also cautions the administration not to accept a pact that would harm the U.S. economy.
'This is a strong, bipartisan wake-up call to the administration,' said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., coauthor of the resolution, approved unanimously on Friday, July 25. He said the purpose was to alter the course of treaty negotiations and prevent the administration from making an agreement that would stand no chance of ratification in the Senate.
The auto industry leaders, who met a day earlier, include the CEOs of the Big 3 and top supplier officials. They call themselves the Joint Automotive Supplier Governmental Action Council.
WARNING FROM EATON
Chrysler CEO Robert Eaton, who cochairs the council, said in a statement about climate-change treaty negotiations:
'This has become a trade, economic and foreign-aid issue disguised as environmentalism. We're moving toward an ill-advised solution involving a massive transfer of American jobs.'
Nations of the world are scheduled to meet in Kyoto, Japan, in December to complete a treaty binding developed nations to as-yet-unspecified reductions in greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide, a normally benign byproduct of burning fossil fuels. The developing nations would be expected to accept limitations at some future date.
Critics of the treaty include some members of Congress, much of the American business community and some elements of organized labor. They say such a treaty would shift industry and jobs to developing countries with no benefit to the environment.
At almost the same time as the auto industry leaders were issuing their statement, President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore were holding the first of a scheduled series of events designed to convince the American public that global warming is a threat that demands U.S. leadership and international action.
Seven prominent scientists at the White House roundtable discussion with Clinton and Gore said inaction could have catastrophic results, including more floods, drought, disease and famine.
'It is no longer a theory but a fact that global warming is real,' said Clinton, who also acknowledged the challenge the administration faces in convincing the public.
Outside the White House, reporters asked the scientists about what lifestyle changes Americans might have to make.
Sherwood Rowland, a chemist from the University of California, said more efficient energy use and development of new technology would not have to mean drastic lifestyle changes.
Stephen Schneider, a biologist from Stanford University, said that if Americans would accept smaller, more efficient vehicles, they could still be as mobile as they want without doing as much environmental damage.