WASHINGTON - The announcement on Wednesday, Feb. 12, by the 10-member Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers was part of a broad effort by the Bush administration to demonstrate that voluntary commitments from businesses are a viable way of combating climate change.
Similar announcements came from electric utilities, mining industries and other manufacturers.
The administration, which has rejected an international treaty requiring cuts in greenhouse gases below 1990 levels, argues that its voluntary approach is better than economically disastrous government mandates. It says that businesses will benefit by saving money on energy.
Alliance President Josephine Cooper notes further that automakers are working on new technologies to make future vehicles more fuel efficient.
But the car companies did not make any new commitment on reducing greenhouse gases from their products. Cars and trucks on the roads are one of the leading sources of carbon dioxide, which many scientists say is accumulating in the atmosphere and threatening cataclysmic climate changes.
The environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council called the Bush approach a bankrupt policy.
Said David Hawkins, director of the council's Climate Center: "The meaningless industry pledges demonstrate that to cut pollution we need real action by Congress and the states."