DaimlerChrysler has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement attempting to clarify remarks made by its Chief Economist as reported on the BBC’s news website. 

The BBC reported that at a meeting of the Society of Automotive Analysts (SAA) in Detroit earlier this week, Chrysler’s chief economist Van Jolissaint had attacked European attitudes to global warming, describing climate change as ‘way, way in the future, with a high degree of uncertainty’.

On its news website, the BBC said he had been particularly critical of the recent Stern Report on climate change, which was commissioned by the UK government and calls for urgent action to tackle the problem.

He was also reported to have said that his German colleagues at DaimlerChrysler’s headquarters in Stuttgart and other professionals in Europe viewed global warming ‘with much more alarm than we do’.

According to the BBC, he then called on Europeans to deal with climate change ‘in a step-by-step, rational way, and not play much Chicken Little’, referring to the US children’s story in which Chicken Little runs around in circles saying ‘the sky is falling’.

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In a transcript of the remarks, the BBC also reported that Van Jolissaint had said: ‘Europe seems to take a political position that some people might describe, not me of course, that some people might describe as quasi-hysterical, that the sky is falling.’

DC’s full statement reads:

‘The following statement can be attributed to Jason Vines, Vice President, Communications for Chrysler Group of DaimlerChrysler.

While describing different interpretations of global climate change at the meeting of the Society of Automotive Analysts in Detroit, Michigan, on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, DaimlerChrysler Chief Economist Van Jolissaint’s comments concerning the company’s policy on global climate change were misinterpreted. Mr. Jolissaint’s remarks to the conference were tape recorded.

A report by the BBC misquoted Mr. Jolissaint and provided misleading information to its listeners, viewers and readers concerning the position of DaimlerChrysler on global climate change. We have asked the BBC to retract its report.

During the conference, while describing the view that “some people might have” of a recently published report that has a more dramatic approach to the issue of global warming, Mr. Jolissaint specifically said, “not me, of course.”

The official policy of DaimlerChrysler states:

We share the concern expressed by many, that global climate could affect future generations. While the science remains uncertain, we support concurrent advances in climate science to ensure fuller understanding of the controversies surrounding this issue and to avoid inappropriate responses by government or the private sector.

We believe that the competitive marketplace is the best solution to this challenge, and we expect to be a leader in developing and introducing advanced technologies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Voluntary actions, because of their inherent flexibility, allow for the greatest greenhouse gas reductions at the lowest cost.

DaimlerChrysler is committed to develop new advanced technologies to minimize any potential impact our vehicles might have on global climate or the environment in general.’