The Greening of Detroit

Envy, it seems, truly is green.

The last of Detroit's Big Three automakers, Daimler-Chrysler, now wants to do what Ford and GM already have announced they plan to do: make sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) that are more environmentally friendly by improving fuel efficiency.

What Congress has refused to do - force SUVs and pickup trucks to meet the same high level of average gas mileage as new cars - public market pressure for "greener" vehicles is now doing anyway.

Why Detroit's change of color?

Much of the credit goes to Ford Motors Chairman Bill Ford, who declared last May that SUVs were harmful to the environment and his company must go green.

But, with the United States' signature on the Kyoto accord reducing greenhouse gases in 1997, American consumers are more aware that they are the world's heaviest polluters and energy users, with SUVs as the poster villains for global warming.

Other industries besides automakers are also coming around to support some of the Kyoto goals and are introducing technology to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. Such market competition will help reduce the need for the kind of government regulation that Kyoto would demand.

President Bush, as he tries to renegotiate the Kyoto treaty to weaken the requirements that hurt the US economy, would be wise to encourage more industries to follow their consumers' wishes and take the green route.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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