The issue of global warming will not go away, but the American Automobile Manufacturers Association will.
As General Motors wrestles with itself over a responsible position on global warming and the reduction of vehicle emissions, GM's trade association is closing up shop. Those two events are related. As a single voice amid shouting multitudes, GM cannot move the needle in the global warming debate.
Give GM credit for acknowledging that, if true, global warming is desperately serious, and that there is some reason to believe it is true. Nonetheless, GM still opposes the Kyoto Treaty, which aims to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases from the developed countries but not from developing countries.
GM's words on the issue have been parsed as much as Bill Clinton's words on his personal life. But GM is pretty much on its own in this political battle, as are the rest of the world's automakers.
Meanwhile, the Big 3's AAMA is turning out the lights, with no organization yet in the wings to replace it.
GM and Ford Motor Co. are trying to persuade the European and Asian automakers, many of which were targets of AAMA political pressure, to join a new organization. Honda says no thanks. It will stay in the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers. Most others say they may join the new organization, but without leaving the trusty, pro-trade AIAM.
GM and other automakers are being too provincial. Global warming and other environmental issues require a thoughtful, unified auto industry. The split opinions of a divided industry are almost worthless. Individual companies can lobby until they are blue in the face (or broke) with little to show for it.
The industry needs a unified organization, and automakers need to do their part in reducing potential greenhouse gases.