Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

Like rats from a doomed ship, some of President Donald Trump’s most prominent supporters have begun to abandon him now that it’s clear he cannot overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election.

Among the biggest and most venerable evacuees: General Motors (GM). With Trump defeated, Detroit-based GM has suddenly been born again as an eager crusader for a clean energy future. “We believe the ambitious electrification goals of the president-elect, California and GM are aligned, to address climate change by drastically reducing automobile emissions,” CEO Mary Barra said in a letter dumping Trump.

Yet it was only a year ago that former California governor Jerry Brown derided GM as “Trump’s lapdog” for the company’s opportunistic decision to side with Trump in a lawsuit attacking California’s environmental efforts.

In March 2019 the Trump administration announced plans to roll back fuel efficiency goals set by the Obama administration. Those standards would have required carmakers to produce cars averaging 4.3l/100km by 2026. Trump sought to gut that goal and reduce the fuel efficiency requirement to an average 6l/100km by 2026.

In July 2019, the California Air Resources Board reached an agreement with five carmakers — BMW, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and Volvo — to adopt a 4.6l/100km average fuel efficiency standard by 2026. It was a major victory for clean air, climate action and governor Gavin Newsom. Then Trump challenged the deal and got GM’s backing.

In October 2019, GM teamed up with Trump and four other carmakers in an attempt to overturn the state’s strong fuel efficiency rules. Ignoring pleas from environmental groups and California leaders, GM sided with Trump in a naked power play to undermine the state’s efforts to reduce pollution and address climate change.

Now that Biden has triumphed, GM wants to get back on the right side of policy and history. If Trump hadn’t lost the election, however, there’s no doubt that GM would still be aiding and abetting his attack on California, climate action and the future of the planet.

California consumers should remember this when deciding which brand of car to purchase. If you wouldn’t drive a car with a Trump 2020 sticker on the bumper, why would you buy a Buick, Cadillac, Chevy or GMC? /Sacramento, November 27

Sacramento Bee

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