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Ford Motor Company gets a "D" for planning for climate change

General Motors
A Chevy Volt, being charged at a solar charging station at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck facility

Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford, Jr. has long been a leader on the issue of climate change.

He was the first executive of a major auto company to call for global action on the threat, more than 15 years ago.

So it may come as a surprise that his company did so poorly on this year's CDP S&P 500 Climate Change Report.

The group gives Ford a "D" for the actions it is taking to prepare for climate change. 

Here's another thing that may come as a surprise: 

CDP gives General Motors an "A" for the steps it is taking to acknowledge, and mitigate, the threat that carbon emissions pose to the planet.

"General Motors is a performance leader for the first time this year," says CDP CEO Paul Simpson, "for the steps it's taking to reduce emissions, setting targets for future emissions reductions, and putting climate change at the heart of corporate strategy.  They are investing significantly in renewable energy and innovating to create low-carbon transportation."

Simpson says Ford is acting on climate change, but there's a lot more they can do. 

"The critical thing is that companies are setting targets for the future to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from their operations.  And what you see is that General Motors says it will will reduce emissions regardless of how the business grows, and Ford hasn't yet got the confidence to say, we will reduce emissions from our business irrespective of how it grows."

Simpson says global warming poses a large risk for businesses, which they need to take into account.  But there are also opportunities to save the company money by reducing energy use, as well as opportunities for profits from low-carbon products and services.

He says the report shows that companies that respond vigorously to the risks of climate change get better returns in the stock market.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.