GM, Canadian Government Bet Jobs Against Environment

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… and then they arrange to lose on both counts.

Per this column from the Globe and Mail’s Jeff Simpson, Canadian auto workers were celebrating this week with the announcement that GM will spend three quarters of a billion dollars refurbishing an Oshawa, Ontario auto plant to build the come-back Camaro. It’s cool. The Camaro’s cool (or it was a quarter century ago), the jobs are cool (3,900 times over) and the local investment is cool.

But the climate is warm and getting warmer, and Canada and GM continue to expend more energy contributing to the problem than trying to face it down.

Simpson offers a nice wrap, and there is more background here on Canada’s political collapse in negotiating its ridiculously lax voluntary emission standards. But here’s another question – not from an environmental perspective, but from a coldly economic one:

U.S. automakers have, in the last decade, dominated in the big-vehicle niche: trucks, SUVs and muscle cars. That would be cool, too, if that was a big niche – if it was, for example, a growing market sector. But gas prices are through the roof and unlikely to fall anytime soon. Why make yet more investments in a narrowing niche?

It would be easy to argue that the reason GM, et al, are only succeeding in the big-vehicle market is that carmakers in the rest of the world have been slow to realize how determined North Americans are to ignore climate change. Even when the Japanese and European auto giants strayed into the SUV wars, they still produced vehicles with that were more fuel efficient – and usually safer, as well. For everybody but GM and Ford, it clearly seemed like a good thing to do.

We at the DeSmogBlog are, obviously, all about saving the world. But we try to make time in each day to be all about making money, as well. And that makes us ask: Why does GM continue betting on this loser strategy? And why does the Canadian government line up and cheer when it happens?

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