GM’s Barra Says Climate Change is Real

CEO shares insight before shareholders kill controversial stock proposal.

by on Jun.06, 2017

GM CEO Mary Barra told reporters that climate change is real and the company will continue pursuing policies and practices aimed at reducing emissions.

Climate change is not bogus or fake news and GM plans to continue to pursue policies and practices that will reduce emissions that contribute to global warming, GM’s top executive said before the automaker’s annual meeting.

“We understand the science and believe in the science,” General Motors CEO Mary Barra said during a press conference prior to GM’s annual shareholders meeting, where shareholders overwhelmingly defeated a measure to change the company’s stock structure.

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Barra added GM continues to take steps to reduce vehicle emissions and use renewable energy to power its own factories and assembly plants. She also told reporters that electric vehicles hold the key to the future of mobility, including autonomous vehicles, Barra said in response to a question from reporters about the Trump administration’s decision to drop out of the Paris climate accord. 

“We’ve communicated that to the administration,” Barra added.

The Trump administration, after an internal debate, announced it was dropping out of the Paris accord, which calls for nation to take voluntary steps to reduce emissions that contribute to climate change. More than 190 nations signed the voluntary accord.

The agreement came under heavy fire from conservative political figures and supporters of traditional energy sources such as coal, which have been identified as putting large amounts of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere that have contributed to climate change.

(GM remains resolute in fight with Greenlight. Click Here for the story.)

President Trump insisted last week that fighting climate change would wind up hurting the U.S. economy

“We are going to continue to be responsible,” said Barra.

Barra noted during the meeting that 2016 was a very good year for GM. “We continue to gain momentum in 2017 driven by strong performance in the U.S. and continued growth in China. We believe GM stock is undervalued,” she added.

(Click Here to see more about GM wrestling with Greenlight over board seats.)

At the same time, GM shareholders rejected by 91% of the vote cast a proposal by Greenlight Capital to divide GM shares into two separate classes. Greenlight argued the proposal would return greater value to GM shareholders.

Barra said GM’s board had taken several months to evaluate the Greenlight proposal but ultimately decided that it was too risky. Voters also rejected three board candidates offered by Greenlight, returning three incumbent candidates to the board.

The two sides exchanged arguments all the way down to the wire with Greenlight’s founder, David Einhorn, taking to Bloomberg Television on Friday to criticize GM’s leadership.

(GM squashes proposal to split stock into two classes. Click Here for the story.)

“It has a balance sheet that’s fundamentally too conservative for the value that’s created in the operations to be unlocked,” he said. Einhorn pointed to the company’s $50 billion market capitalization and GM’s $20 billion of cash, and available credit.

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