As has become obvious in fire-ravaged California, climate change is no longer an abstract concept to worry about someday but a threat to quality of life. Seen in this light, the decision by General Motors, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru, Hyundai, Kia and Fiat Chrysler to back President Donald Trump’s challenge to California’s tougher vehicle emission rules puts them on the wrong side of history.

Trump’s desire to freeze mileage targets for vehicle mileage at 2020 levels and to abandon the Obama administration regulations requiring automakers’ fleets to average 55 miles per gallon by 2025 is motivated by his belief that global warming is a myth. Four automakers grasp the danger of this view. In July, Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW agreed to follow California’s tougher standards, which are allowed under a half-century-old waiver given the state. Trump wants that waiver scrapped.

But climate scientists say requiring better vehicle mileage is one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change. Vehicles are the biggest source of such emissions in the U.S. Trump will keep targets at 37 miles per gallon.

An auto industry lobbyist told Reuters that most automakers’ decision to side with Trump does not mean they wouldn’t subsequently favor strengthening mileage standards. But that seems more like spin than sincerity. Here’s the real story for GM, Toyota and others siding with the president on this: They’re taking a dim, shortsighted view of their investors and the planet itself, and Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW’s advertising should say so.

Editorial by The San Diego Union-Tribune

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