General Motors is accused of being “Global Warmer Number One” by a US pressure group called Environmental Defence which has produced a report calculating the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by the new vehicles sold each year by major vehicle manufacturers.

Environmental Defence, which describes itself as a “leading” New York-based national nonprofit organisation representing more than 300,000 members, claims that General Motors’ fleet imposes the largest “carbon burden”, producing 6.7 million metric tons per year.

The No.1 vehicle maker is followed closely by Ford, whose fleet is claimed to produce 5.6 million tons.

Environmental Defence says the carbon burden is the total CO2 emitted by a group of vehicles each year and represents their lifetime average global warming impact.

“Each year automakers roll out fleets of cars and trucks that add increasing amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere,” said John DeCicco, senior fellow at Environmental Defence and the report’s lead author.

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“Over the past decade, they have put their design and marketing talents into anything but addressing their products’ harm to the planet and liability for oil dependence.”

 “As the top producer of CO2-spewing vehicles, GM is ‘global warmer’ number one. Market success brings with it a proportionate responsibility to apply clean and efficient technology as part of auto industry corporate strategy,” said executive director Fred Krupp.

Environmental Defence says third-place DaimlerChrysler’s carbon burden at 4.1 million tons has grown more rapidly while Toyota, whose product line produces two million metric tons of carbon annually, posted the most rapid growth in global warming pollution.

The organisation claims Toyota’s carbon burden has grown 72% since 1990, compared to 33% growth for the market as a whole.

The report, entitled “Automakers’ Corporate Carbon Burdens”, uses government data to project the oil consumption and CO2 emissions from each firm’s new vehicle sales and analyses how these figures evolved between 1990 and 2000.