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Last week, the issues of climate change and energy security – and the risk they present to our nation’s quality of life and industry – come to the forefront during Climate Week in New York City. Meanwhile we’re doing our part to find solutions right here in the Motor City.

Detroit is a community of innovators who are used to rolling up our sleeves and turning adversity into opportunity. I know as I see it firsthand in my job as General Motors’ executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles. By thinking long term and keeping customers at the heart of all of our actions, we can strengthen our business, maintain our competitive edge and transform transportation.

We know people care about more than the cars. They care how we build them, and how we engage with the world around us. This is changing our approach to product design, manufacturing, safety, quality, the environment, customer care and a host of other areas at a remarkable pace.

Some of the bold moves already underway include restructuring vehicles to maximize efficiencies, rethinking manufacturing to lessen environmental impact and collaborating with unlikely partners, from non-governmental organizations to competitors, to advance the industry.

GM views addressing climate change as an economic opportunity. There is real business value in delivering customers vehicles that are fun to drive and save them money. Optimizing global operations for greater efficiency is good for the bottom line and conserves the resources vital to our industry. Measuring and managing our carbon impacts shows the financial community that we’re prepared for changing market demands and emissions regulation. And these actions communicate our stewardship of the environment and our commitment to those seeking out environmentally responsible and mission-driven companies.

We’re proud of what we’re doing, but to really seize this opportunity and lessen the industry’s environmental footprint we have to collaborate at an international, national, and local level. As the world’s political and business leaders, including our own CEO Mary Barra, meet in New York, we’re working locally with the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative as they help design a climate action plan for the city.

The DCAC established several workgroups that have developed adaptation and mitigation goals, as well as short and long-term action steps, which will be included in this climate action plan. GM is proud to serve on the Business and Institution Workgroup.

Together with other businesses and institutions, we’re developing goals focused on greenhouse gas emissions reduction, resilience, appropriate policy, and, importantly, growing a green, multi-generational culture in Detroit. Our focus is to increase clean energy use, share best practices and engage and collaborate across metro Detroit.

From Detroit to Shanghai, we’re seeking out opportunities to reduce our environmental impact.

We have the people and ideas to see opportunities where others see challenges and to keep out-innovating the world in the years to come.

Pamela Fletcher is GM’s executive chief engineer – Electrified Vehicles.

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