Automakers claim to believe in climate change, but they don’t really want to address it

So, you know how car companies brag about how much they’re doing to improve the environment and slow climate change?

Funny thing is, that’s a bunch of bull. Or at least it is when those same automakers are behind closed doors, chatting with the president and his (allegedly) ethics-challenged EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, urging the two of them to roll back efficiency standards. Fast Company reports:

“Climate change is real,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra wrote in a LinkedIn post on Tuesday touting the company’s plans to introduce new electric cars as part of a vision for a zero-emissions future. “We recognize the transportation sector is a contributor, and we must be part of the solution.”

The rhetoric sounds green. But when Barra and other auto industry executives meet with Trump on May 11 to talk about the administration’s plans to weaken fuel-efficiency standards, they won’t be arguing that Obama-era standards should stay in place exactly as they were written. Instead, some activists say that the car companies want changes that will result in increased pollution while letting them claim they’re still making progress on fuel efficiency.

Car companies may find this to be an unwise move, however, as there has recently been an increased focus on those responsible for contributing to climate change, and people are willing to hold them accountable. With strong links being made globally between air pollution caused by vehicle emissions and respiratory illnesses and premature deaths, it’s only a matter of time before the automotive industry is bombarded with climate lawsuits. Lawyers on, for example, are already offering climate lawsuits as one of their social justice services, and more will follow, so it’s about time that the automotive industry opened its eyes to reality instead of emitting even more meaningless rhetoric.

An auto industry trade group asked Trump to “adjust” the clean car standards the day after the election; days after Trump took office, automakers met with him and asked for the same thing. After more lobbying–including arguments in a regulatory filing that climate science is untrustworthy (at the same time as companies like Ford and GM have publicly stated that climate change is real)–Pruitt reopened a review of the standards. Then the administration suggested freezing them entirely.