GM announced today (9 May) that it would join the United States Climate Action Partnership (USCAP).

USCAP is a partnership of major businesses that was formed at the beginning of this year to urge the US government to take act quickly on climate change and cap greenhouse emissions.

Members include Dow Chemical, Alcan, Shell, Siemens, Johns & Johnson and PepsiCo. New members that have just joined along with GM, doubling the membership, include Alcoa, BP America, DuPont and Caterpillar.

USCAP is endorsed by a number of environmental organisations including the National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy and Environmental Defence.

USCAP’s recommendations are based on six principles: account for the global dimensions of climate change; recognise the importance of technology; be environmentally effective; create economic opportunity and advantage; be fair to sectors disproportionately impacted; and, recognise and encourage early action.

“GM is very pleased to join USCAP in proactively addressing the concerns posed by climate change,” said chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner.

“The key as we see it is energy diversity – being able to offer our customers vehicles that can be powered by many different energy sources and advanced propulsion systems to help displace petroleum and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We especially applaud USCAP for recognising the important role that technology can play in achieving an economy-wide solution.”

GM views the need to promote energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions as both a business necessity and an obligation to society.

In a statement the automaker criticised the current US Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) programme that, over the course of more than 30 years, has fallen dramatically short of its stated goals.

Since CAFE was enacted, both the number of vehicles on the road and the number of vehicle miles traveled have nearly doubled. During this same three-decade period, US petrol consumption has increased by 60% and oil imports have increased by more than 100%.

These increases have occurred despite the fact that automakers as a whole have increased new vehicle fleet fuel economy for light trucks by 60%, and more than doubled it for passenger cars – with GM claiming to have improved its fuel economy more than any other major auto manufacturer.

In testimony before Congress in March, Wagoner said: “Now is the time for a new, more comprehensive and forward-looking national strategy that ensures we’re working on the right things that will really make a difference in reducing oil consumption and CO2 emissions.”

Wagoner added that GM was willing to engage in discussions on carbon constraints on the US economy as part of such a broader climate change strategy.

GM’s position is consistent with USCAP’s strong commitment toward an economy-wide policy and legislative framework that would include a mandatory, flexible cap-and-trade programme.