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[Grist]: BUSTING THEIR ASSETS – Analysts Warn Automakers of Coming Climate-Change Risks

I’ve long held that the market — once turned loose — would have impacts on corporate environmental practice that regulators only dreamed of. Just last week, at a workshop hosted by WorldChanging to ‘imagine the future in a way that few have tried, and fewer still have accomplished: plausible, realistic scenarios of a sustainable world,’ one of our scenario ‘axes’ was ‘Wall Street gets it.’ (Fascinating futures resulted.)

Well, just two days later, the New York Times reported that: an analyst at Merrill Lynch, organized a teleconference to address a troubling question for Detroit’s automakers: As regulators around the world move to curb global-warming emissions from cars and improve fuel efficiency, what happens if Wall Street adds up the costs?…

‘As a U.S. auto analyst, I’m very concerned about the risk side of the equation,’ said Mr. Casesa of Merrill Lynch.

This is not new news, even in corporate suites. CFO Gary Pfeiffer and other some of the other wild eyed tree huggers running Dupont — along with a growing number of companies — see an ncreasingly profound connection between societal commitments and share value.

Even Fortune Magazine has recognized that Environmental ‘efficiency’ can be a plus for a stock. Really.

But the auto industry, now that’s serious — and much more important than what the White House thinks.

Grist observes…it may be that U.S. automakers will have to take global warming seriously after all. A recent report from financial analysts at the investment group Sustainable Asset Management and the enviro-policy shop World Resources Institute claims that automakers in general, and Ford and General Motors in particular, are at risk from the ‘carbon intensity’ of their operations. The analysts noted two trends: First is the growing worldwide pressure to cut carbon-dioxide emissions by raising fuel-economy standards, with regulations already underway in Europe, China, and California. The second is pressure inside the U.S. to reduce dependence on foreign energy sources (read: oil). While Honda and Toyota are well-placed to weather the storm, Ford and GM, with their market reliance on gas-guzzling light trucks, are not. Ford welcomed the report and pledged to put eco-friendliness top on their list of priorities; GM mostly kvetched.

Time to check your portfolio…