Ford Europe Exec: Addressing Climate Change Requires Radical Change of Mindset
16 February 2006
Stating that tackling the challenge of climate change requires a “complete and radical change of mindset,” Lewis Booth, Ford executive vice president overseeing Ford of Europe and Premier Automotive Group, said the company acknowledged the importance of climate change and the responsibility to take action.
Booth made the remarks in a speech in London at the European Petroleum industry’s Europia conference.
He called for greater support from all key stakeholders—vehicle manufacturers, customers, national governments, the fuel industry and the European Commission—in adopting a more integrated approach to reducing CO2 from vehicles.
At Ford, we recognize that climate change is one of the biggest global challenges facing society today. This is because climate change has the potential to impact economic and social systems as well as the environment.
We also believe it is the biggest challenge facing the auto industry.
If we are to stabilize climate change and avert a potential catastrophe, we need to stabilize concentrations of atmospheric CO2 at acceptable levels. The debate continues, but experts broadly agree that we need to stabilize long-term CO2 concentrations at 550 parts per million, perhaps even lower.
The scale of the challenge means that it’s not enough to introduce two or three new environmental products and leave it at that. We need fundamentally to reassess the way we do business, putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do.
That requires nothing less than a complete and radical change of mindset: not only for Ford Motor Company, where we are undergoing this transformation, but for the whole auto industry.—Lewis Booth
Booth ticked off some statistics underlying his message:
18% of man-made CO2 emissions are caused by transport;
Just under two thirds of transport CO2 emissions come from road traffic;
Approximately one half of the road traffic CO2 emissions are due to passenger cars.
Booth noted that the industry must move ahead with a range of technology solutions simultaneously. He said that Ford is working with technologies including clean diesel; advanced direct injection gasoline; weight stabilization and reduction; alternative fuel vehicles (AFV), including flexible-fuel vehicles and developing superior AFV technologies; hybrid powerpacks and research into plug-in hybrid technology; hydrogen internal combustion engines (ICE); and hydrogen fuel cells.
And make no mistake, it will ultimately be the consumers who decide.
We recognize that hybrids have their place within this portfolio of solutions, but at the same time we must accept they are not the only answer.
They deliver excellent benefits in lower speed stop/start traffic, but they are not as beneficial for the driver who does high motorway mileage.
In Europe, where the diesel market is already well established, state-of-the-art diesel technology already offers cost/benefits for the consumer that are comparable to those of gasoline hybrids.
In the USA and Japan, on the other hand, where diesel penetration is limited, gasoline hybrids are more likely to be the stepping stone to the long term hydrogen economy—and it is an area we are pursuing aggressively.
Booth said that Ford is developing diesel micro-hybrids for the European market to build on the widespread acceptance of diesel technology.
Booth called on governments to increase investment in improved road and traffic management infrastructures, and to ensure that policy and incentives should be technology neutral, targeting the outcome rather than the solution.
He then turned his attention to the industry represented by the audience at the conference.
It is absolutely clear that the solution to carbon emissions from road vehicles will come from advances in CO2 performance of fuels as well as vehicle technology.
So far our conversations with the oil industry indicate there is still some considerable way to go before the oil industry fully accepts and endorses the integrated approach of which I have spoken because of the concerns around the financial implications to the industry and to the consumer.
But the fact is that without the whole-hearted involvement of the fuel industry we cannot move forward far enough or fast enough. We need the fuel industry to extend the availability of low carbon fuels from sustainable sources—and we need it to do so now and rapidly, not in ten years from now.
We share the excitement around the potential of second generation bio-fuels (wood/lingo-cellulosic) which not only promise to achieve well-to-wheel CO2 emissions not far short of those of the hydrogen fuel cell.
But the oil industry need to invest in developing and marketing such fuels if we are to move on from E85 and low blends of bio-diesel.
Booth said that there was “no doubt in my mind whatsoever” that policies must be coherent and consistently implemented across all countries.
Consistent implementation of the integrated approach to the reduction of carbon emissions will allow us to achieve much more in a shorter timeframe and at a significantly lower cost than if each party were to pursue its own agenda in isolation, however well-intentioned they might be.
So let me summa rise. Global warming exists and we all share a responsibility to do something about it, basing our actions on the best scientific knowledge available.
The challenges are considerable but they are not insuperable, and there is an enormous amount we can achieve if we act together in an integrated manner.
We all have to ensure that our businesses are sustainable by making products that continue to meet the changing needs of the 21st century. That’s a responsibility we owe to our shareholders and our employees.
But at another level, all of us have the opportunity to do something about the future of our planet and work to arrest the momentum of climate change—and that’s a responsibility we owe to future generations.
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