Thursday, December 07, 2006

Thanks for the top 10 reasons...

Hello, I am a schoolchild in the East Midlands, in year 9.
Because of our SATS, we have been practising different types of writing. This week we were set an assignment to find an issue and write persuasively about it. I chose to write about 4x4s and why people shouldn’t buy them. I came across your campaign and thought it would be great to research this issue via your website.
I love your top 10 reasons, and I agree with them all. It’s nice to know that there are people trying to save the planet and ARE paying attention to climate change.
Yours Truly, Jack S.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Can Landrover Go Beyond?

Right. Landrover is at it again, this time using Ewan McGregor's gloopy voiceover to equate it's 4x4s with phrases like 'dirty is better than clean', 'dare is better than daren't', and 'just pack some courage and some spirit'...
Go Beyond - check out their video. It's important to recognise who they are appealing to and what their messaging is.
Oddly enough, did you notice than none of the shots are of 4x4s stuck in traffic in the city, or dropping their kids off at school? They're all in wild, exotic places, or with some hamburger bar in the background (boy gets girl).
And, how many Landrovers do you see with mud on them?
OK - 4x4s have their place in Africa game preserves, or used in search and rescue missions. But why use those legitimate situations to encourage middle aged overweight males to buy a £60K Rangerover Sport?
We actually like to think that Landrover needs to go beyond and start making cars that don't cost the earth.
Instead of asking Freelander buyers to pay £160 a month for 6 months to offset the carbon released in manufacturing their 4x4 (what do we do for the rest of the life of the vehicle?), do they have the courage to build cars that are cleaner, lighter and more fuel efficient? Can they capture the spirit to become leaders in the industry instead of holding the UK back from meeting it's CO2 reductions by aggressively selling heavy and fuel-hungry vehicles?
Can Landrover Go Beyond Themselves? Now is better than never...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Newest Alliance branch starts with a bang!

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The Edinburgh branch of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s succesfully launched in Edinburgh. Nearly a thousand spoof 'parking tickets' were issued to campaigners, who covered the whole of New Town and Stockbridge.

'The days when people could drive tank-sized cars about the city without encountering public opinion are over,' said Alliance spokesperson, Gregory Norminton. '18 of the 4x4 models in our streets fall within the highest band for CO2 emissions. This makes 4x4s the single most polluting group of cars on the market.'

'At a time of worsening global warming, and with the Stern Report making it clear that the world will face economic meltdown if it fails to reduce its carbon emissions, buying a large off-road vehicle for use in towns and cities is morally irresponsible.'

'The Alliance is fighting to reverse the effects of the automobile industry's massive advertising campaigns for these large and dangerous vehicles. We believe that government should ban advertisements for the most polluting vehicles or place visible health warnings over them, similar to those printed on cigarette packets. The largest 4x4s exceed by more than 200% the EU vehicle emissions target of 140 g CO2/km. They are also extremely dangerous to other road users, and can be fatal even at low speeds in collisions with pedestrians, especially children and the elderly.'

'The Alliance is a grassroots pressure group. Wherever people live in Edinburgh, they can help us get out our message.’

The coverage of the Edinburgh Alliance has been remarkable. They have been on Radio Forth, BBC Radio Scotland and, last Friday evening, on BBC 1's 'Reporting Scotland'. See also the following articles in The Edinburgh Evening News and The Herald:

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Stern Report, Green Taxes, and apathy

Honestly, for all the fanfare that the Stern Report received when it was launched a few weeks ago, you couldn't help feel that the politicians and corporations would all fall in line with it's recommendations - spend more money now to help prevent the effects of climate change, or face far more damaging economic consequences later.
But the message hasn't seemed to affect British businesses, or the Treasury. Somehow they all feel that Britain isn't implicated by the report.
While Richmond council released it's plans to base it's council parking rates on vehicle emissions, it was praised by David Milliband as it moved to tax the polluter. Other councils seem ready to follow suit. But what about businesses? Well, to give you an idea, to quote the Guardian, "Michael O'Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, called the idea of raising taxes to protect the environment "horse shit"."
Does Gordon Brown have the nerve and will to make a difference? In next month's budget, he has the opportunity to really make Vehicle Excise Duty mean something. In the late 90's VED was changed to tax vehicles according to their CO2 emissions. It is a green tax meant to change a consumer's choice of vehicle, as well as raise revenue. At the time the government was responding to the Kyoto challenge.
In March this year, the Chancellor raised the VED by £45, and created a new VED band G, which included many of the large 4x4 models that plague the city centres. However, that increase was hugely unsubstantial, and led to us publicly criticising his credentials as a 'green' chancellor.
This December he has an opportunity to really take his own medicine, from his own treasury. Follow the Stern Report's findings, and use the VED for what it was intended for. There needs to be substantial ££ incentives for people to choose a fuel-efficient vehicle, and at the same time he needs to throw down the gauntlet and strongly penalise those who choose to drive a highly polluting vehicle.
Does the government have the will to make a difference? You can help today and tell the PM by signing our new petition on the Downing Street petition site -

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Edinburgh Ready To Launch!

Well, we are counting the days until the newest Alliance group launches in Edinburgh. Already they have received lots of press attention - watch out for Gregory on Good Morning Scotland this Friday 24th November.
We've been busy little bees creating a new ticket just for 'Auld Reekie' which looks great, and just like the original. They should have some 4x4 drivers sweating buckets when they return to their vehicles after the Saturday shopping spree.
According to Gregory Norminton, spokesperson for the group, ‘With the seemingly unstoppable growth in transport-related emissions, there has never been a greater need to promote a cultural shift away from irresponsible driving. Does anyone really need a powerful off-road vehicle to get around the streets of Edinburgh? The fact is that urban 4x4s are appallingly inefficient and dirty, burning as much fuel as three SMART cars and emitting as many ground-level pollutants as two estate cars. They are dangerous to pedestrians, other car users, and even their own drivers: insurance data shows that urban 4x4s are involved in 25% more accidents than ordinary cars.’
‘With global warming threatening all of us, the time has come to dissuade people from buying gas-guzzling vehicles. The recent announcement of Richmond Borough Council’s plan to increase parking charges for the more polluting vehicles is a sign that – in some places at least – sense is beginning to prevail on this one. We will be campaigning on a local and national level to persuade councils to increase parking charges for the more polluting vehicles.’
If you want to get involved, come out on Saturday and join them 2pm near the National Gallery, or visit their blog site at

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Are all 4x4s the same?

We receive many emails from 4x4 owners who have been ticketed. Most are strongly defensive about their 'freedom' to buy and drive whatever they want, as if their materialist value was a democratic right. Some people argue that they have a genuine need for 4-wheel drive, and were wrongly ticketed. And some criticize us for 'tarring all 4x4 owners with the same brush'.

So, the question is, are all 4x4s the same? Should we in fact be recommending one 4x4 over the others based on it's environmental or safety credentials? This was the question posed to us last month when we were invited to visit Honda's environmental manager. John Kingston wanted to discuss the new generation (cleaner and greener) Honda CR-V. Their position was not all 4x4s are the same and the CR-V was the best one. And would we please remove any mention of the CR-V from our parking tickets (mentioned in the emissions table)?

Interestingly, we had gone wanting to find out why Honda was one of the auto manufacturers suing the State of California for introducing new legislation limiting CO2 emissions. You see, our argument is: If an auto manufacturer wants to be seen as green, then it's important that as a whole they reduce the overall CO2 emissions of their car fleet. You can't simultaneously promote more 4x4s that emits 220 gmCO2 /km and hope to reduce your overall fleet emissions to 120 gmCO2/km with a few hybrid sales (which emit around 108 gmCO2 /km).

The argument we make is this. Based on the overwhelming and urgent scientific evidence about climate change, and including the findings in the Stern Report this week, and remembering that all of the manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to reduce their CO2 emissions to 120gm/km by 2012, why are most auto makers continuing to agressively advertise 4x4s which emit from 220 up to 380(gm CO2/km)? Their fundamental integrity has to be questioned.

We need solutions to our environmental crisis if we are going to survive as a species. We have to put aside our fairytale dreams and face the facts.

Needless to say, Honda is apparently supplying new CR-V's with a windscreen sticker that says something to the tune of 'Please don't ticket my Honda - Not all 4x4s are the same'. Well, aren't they?

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Health Warnings on Car Ads

A year ago, Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation suggested that 4x4s should be made to carry health warnings similar to tobacco products. His reasoning was that "the gap between image and reality with SUVs is reminiscent of that in tobacco industry advertising. After all, the scientific consensus over the causes and consequences of climate change closely mirrors that about smoking and cancer. And in the same way as the tobacco advertisers, car advertisers have tried to associate their product with masculinity, health and the outdoor life. So shouldn't SUVs now be labelled in the same way as cigarette packets, with messages such as ...'Climate change can seriously damage your health'?"

According to Simms, "If you peer at the small print on car adverts, you can find out how many grams of carbon dioxide per kilometre a car will produce. But that's meaning- less without comparative figures. The government plans to pilot a new labelling scheme based on the green-to-red, A-to-G European labels that are found on electrical appliances." He adds, "Canadian government research, backed by World Bank findings, shows that there is a direct relationship between the size of warnings and the effect on personal behaviour. 'The larger the health warning message,' reports Health Canada, 'the more effective it is at encouraging smokers to stop smoking.'"

Finally, he suggests "Like those for cigarettes, the warnings could cover 30-50 per cent of the vehicles' surface area. People could still drive them, but when they did, they would publicly accept the consequences of their actions, and help the education drive on traffic safety and global warming."

In 2005, a study in the British Medical Journal also suggested health warnings, but based on their poor design. They called for 'warning notices on SUVs to help inform consumers of the increased risks of severe injuries and death associated with the vehicles. Because SUV bonnets are higher than those of cars, there is a more severe initial impact on the upper leg and pelvis, and a doubling of injuries to vulnerable regions such as the head, thorax, and abdomen. '

Given all the news about 4x4s lately, is the writing on the wall for health warnings? Well, maybe not as dramatic as Simms recommends, but we have been noticing how inappropriately tiny the CO2 and fuel-efficiency figures are on large billboards as well as magazine ads. You have to really search for the figures. Is that supposed to responsibly inform someone considering purchasing a new 4x4?

Well, maybe that is all set to change. Labour MP Colin Challen is set to introduce a bill that will call for one-quarter of all vehicle ads to focus on fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions information. Mr Challen said: "More and more consumers want to do their bit to combat climate change and so we need to enlarge the small print to be able to see precisely how our new car purchase impacts on the environment."

Thursday, October 26, 2006

EU set to regulate the Car Industry thru Legislation

Sometimes carrots don't work, and the stick needs to come out. That's what's happening in the EU.

In 1998 the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) promised to voluntarily reduce average CO2 emissions from new cars to no more than 140 grams per kilometre by 2008. Bummer, then, when in 2006 the UK average emissions exceeds 169g/km. At that rate UK manufacturers will meet their targets by.. 2022 or so.

What went wrong? Why won't they meet their targets...Guess?...Right - most manufacturers threw climate change to the wind and sold large fuel-hungry 4x4s.

Last night, Liberal Democrat environment spokesman Chris Davies said: “In their private boardrooms they looked at the figures, recognised that they could make more profits out of gas guzzling SUVs and 4WDs, and deliberately decided not to fulfil the commitment."

According to EU Commissioner Dimas, “This year the Commission will review the possibilities for further reductions of carbon dioxide emissions from cars after 2008-2009, with a view to meeting the Community target of 120g of CO2 per kilometre by 2012. That will, of course, require legislation.” The dreaded legislation stick.

Which is, of course, good news. Unless you haven't met your targets. According to the new T&E report released yesterday, one manufacturer has already met their target ahead of time.

Fiat gets a gold star.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Parking fees linked to emissions

The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s welcomes the decision by Richmond Council's proposal for emissions-led parking rates.
Under the plan, the cost of residents' parking permits would be linked to the emissions their car produces. Additionally, a family's second car will be charged at a 50% higher rate.
We're in favour of the scheme, and will be campaigning for more London councils, as well as other cities, to follow suit. In general, most local councils around London are in favor of this scheme.
Why? Most 4x4's are a socially unacceptable car choice in the cities. Parking schemes like the one Richmond Council has proposed will give real incentives for people to make the choice for lighter cars that enhance the air quality as well as safety for pedestrians and cyclists, and strong disincentives for people exerting 'their right' to buy the heavier, dirtier and more dangerous cars.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Manchester Alliance goes to School

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Early on 16th October campaigners protested outside Hale Preparatory School in Manchester. The school is rather notorious for the excessive numbers of parents who drop off their children in 4x4s.

According to Graham, who put the school run event together, "the morning was organised around campaigners dressed as school masters in classic robes and mortar boards handing out school reports giving bad grades for 'poor vehicle choice'. Other campaigners were dressed as lollipop ladies carrying 'Stop 4x4' lollipops.

The day was a great success. We had support from parents who had come to school by walking and from locals who live on the road and are tired off the 4x4s that plow along there in morning. Although there were a few 4x4 drivers who didn’t appreciate the message we were successful in engaging with most drivers and several said they would reconsider their vehicle choice.

We had a lot of media attention from BBC Radio and Northwest tonight, Channel M, the Manchester Evening News and an ITV crew filming a documentary on the subject. This resulted in us getting our message out to a wider audience and it has been quite a successful day."

Stay tuned for more from Manchester. We expect a Manchester 'mock parking ticket' to be released soon.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Launch of new Hampshire Alliance

Saturday saw the launch of the new Hampshire Alliance Against Urban 4x4s on the grounds at Winchester Cathedral. Over 30 representatives from 15 local groups attended in spite of the heavy rains. 130 4x4s were 'ticketed' around the town centre. There was a very good media response, with several pre-records being played throughout the day, as well as a phone-in session on BBC Solent with Peter White.

Organiser Darren Shirley had this to say: "The Hampshire Alliance has been a long time coming. The inexplicable growth in 4x4 ownership across Hampshire has been evident for a while and the groups who formed the coalition have been working individually to tackle the rising level of local carbon emissions and other pollutants caused by vehicle emissions. It seemed sensible to combine our efforts and work together to stop big 4x4 (along with other gas guzzling cars) from choking our children and killing our planet. We don't want Winchester and the other towns and cities of Hampshire to end up like Chelsea! 4x4 sales are dropping and we aim to ensure this trend is continued across Hampshire and appropriate measures are brought in locally to curb the influx of 4x4s into the counties cities." Future events are already planned. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 31, 2006

It's time to regulate the Auto Industry

Clearly it's time for the EU to regulate the automobile industry. The voluntary targets that the manufacturers set for themselves in 1989, to reduce their overall European fleet emmissions to 140gm CO2 / km by 2008, will not be met. Not by a longshot. So much for handshakes.

Instead, most car manufacturers have driven up sales of large 4x4s, which are cheaper to produce and allow a higher profit margin. Unfortunately most 4x4 models also emit higher levels of CO2 and NO2 than typical family sedans.

This summer, Ford UK was falling over itself with an anouncement that it would be devoting millions of pounds into researching technologies to reduce CO2 emmissions. However, that research may be looking in the wrong place. Using alternative 'bio-fuels' will not be a real solution, as the source of local biofuel would not be sustainable. The manufacturing of bio-fuels is dependent on harvesting large 'mono-crops' and encouraging corporate-run agribusiness just when we need our farmers to increase their localised production of diverse food crops to decrease food miles and provide food security.

More importantly, the rush for bio-fuel technologies does not increase the overall efficiency of the outdated combustion engine design, which is at best 20% efficient. Electric cars that run on batteries are about 90% - 95% efficient.

What we need is new innovative designers to think outside the box. Ideas such as the new all-electric Tesla sports car (that accelerates 0-60 in 4 seconds) are a step in the right direction. We also need new transport plans for cities that decrease our dependency on motorised transport. We can look to Portland, Oregon in the US for example.

It's time for getting down to real innovation. And accepting responsibility for the future, which depends on all of us.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Are 4x4 drivers Public Enemy Number 1?

A report released in the Independent by the British Medical Journal concludes that the drivers of 4x4s are 4 times more likely to be using their mobile phone while driving, and more likely to be driving without a seatbelt. Read the full report herePosted by Picasa

the Alliance joins the World Naked Bike Ride

Members of the Alliance joined up with the World Naked Bike Ride in London on 10th July to help protest about oil dependency and car use. We wore white M&S pants with slogans like '4x4s are full or arse' and 'bullocks to 4x4s'. The day was a complete success with almost 1,000 people attending the event. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

4x4s Cause Damage at the Carwash

Mark Collins writes: "You may want to add that you might be turned away from a carwash if you own a 4x4. I work for the UK's biggest carwash supplier and I can confirm that the biggest petrol stations are beginning to ban 4x4's from their washes, as a result of damage to their equipment. I can name one site that had over £6500 damage caused in 6 weeks from various 4x4's. Most carwashes cannot effectively 'see' the spare wheels and bull bars, and as a result try to wash the car as if its not there. Net result? smashed and bashed machinery.
Oh, and the most common damage caused by 4x4's? Customers driving into the carwash, because they cannot judge the width of the car correctly. The funniest accidents are caused by the owners of crewcab pick-ups. The roofbrush gets stuck in the loadbed, leaving owners trapped for ages.....what a shame."

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Footballers Wives - Blondes Do Have More Fun

Last week the Alliance dressed up as the footballers wives - blokes as well - and showed just how much fun blondes can have protesting against 4x4s. We turned the heads of many men, not least of all the Chelsea players themselves as they showed up for footie practice.
What team is next as we seek to educate our championship league? Stay tuned! Posted by Picasa

Friday, April 21, 2006

Attention Seekers

Chelsea Footballers target of new 4x4 protest by fabulous 'Footballers' Wives'

Originally uploaded by stopurban4x4s.

Joined by the footballers' wives, the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s carried out a daring protest this Wednesday at the training ground of Chelsea Football Club.

As players arrived for training at the ground in Cobham, Surrey, a referee handed the footballers a giant 'red card' for their poor choice of gas-guzzling 4x4s, saying "Send off your 4x4".

He was joined by a gaggle of 'footballers' wives' in their most fabulous fake fur and bling, and with their very straightest hairdos. The wives berated the players with stylish pink placards saying, "I'd rather guzzle champagne than petrol", "Your 4x4 is minging not blinging" and "Range Rover - SO over".

Referee Blake Ludwig one of the founders of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s - said, "These wasteful, dirty and dangerous 4x4s ought to be sent off. They guzzle far more fuel than ordinary cars and are far more dangerous to pedestrians, particularly small children, who are twice as likely to be killed if they are hit by a big 4x4 due to the extra weight and height of the vehicle."

Spokeswife Roxanne, looking fabulous as she waved her placard, said, "I hope these players don't think they are impressing us in their fat, ugly tanks -they are totally minging. Just think of all the bubbly they could buy if they weren't wasting all that cash on petrol for their stupid Chelsea tractors."

"We challenge the players to follow the cool, talented Hollywood star Thandie Newton, who knows where the game is really at. She recently ditched her 4x4 for a much cleaner hybrid-electric car."

Fellow spokeswife and mother of three, Shiraz, said, "Millions of kids take these top players as their role models, copying their fashionable clothes, silky skills, groundbreaking haircuts - and their taste in cars. While a haircut is relatively harmless, don't they realise the irony of making kids want 4x4s when it's the same kids who are going to have to pay for climate change in the future?"

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Tackling the Footballers Head-On

The Times UK scored a glorious goal yesterday by publicizing our new campaign on page 5. We're out to show the famous footballers (and their wives) that it is not cool to own a 4x4.
Ben Webster, Times motoring reporter, writes that "the three most popular cars among top-flight players are all large off-road vehicles that produce more than double the emissions of the average car, according to a survey."
The survey he refers to was conducted by a lads magazine Nuts.
To quote Ben, "The BMW X5, weighing 2.2 tonnes and using a gallon of fuel every 15 miles (24km), is the favourite. It is driven by 22 players, including Sol Campbell, John Terry and Danny Murphy. The 4.8-litre engine emits three times as much carbon dioxide per kilometre as small diesels such as the Volkswagen Lupo.
In second place is the Mercedes-Benz M-class, owned by Freddie Ljungberg, Ruud van Nistelrooy and 16 other players. It is slightly cheaper than the BMW X5 but just as polluting.
Third on the list... is the Range Rover, driven by 16 Premiership players including Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen and Jermain Defoe. It is the heaviest and thirstiest of the three, achieving fuel consumption of as little as 12 miles per gallon. "
So, the Premiership lads better take care to show a better example to a young generation out there or we'll be seeing them wherever they park!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

New Belgian anti-4x4 group makes the headlines

Here is a short update from Jeroen and Joeri from the Belgian actiongroup 4x4info.

"Well, we've got some busy times behind us. After getting our website online beginning of December, we released our first press release, together with about 15 other organisations. This first press-release was quite general, focusing on both environmental- and safety concerns about SUV's. Also from the beginning, we have chosen to talk about the problem with SUV's in a broader context where the car-industry keeps on moving towards bigger, heavier and more powerful cars. From the beginning, we have got the support from some people in the academic world, they helped us a lot getting our facts straight.

In December, we also started to distribute our stickers (with our logo and the website). We distributed them through fair-trade stores, ecological centers, and via friends. We hang them everywhere, but not in the least on SUV's off course. This also has gotten the attention of some 4x4-lovers, on . A heavy discussion is going on there, but their arguments are more rude than reasonable. The administration of this 4x4-club asked us to have a meeting with them though in the coming weeks, to discuss our point of view with them, and we will do so.

Yesterday then: the very first ACTION of 4x4info. Together with 15 motivated volunteers, we went to protest at the European Motor Show in Brussels. This went very, very good. The reactions of the visitors were mostly very positive. Their was quite some press, and our message was picked up by national tv and on almost all online newspapers yesterday evening. So a good chance we will have some articles in the newspapers tomorrow ...

In our press release we don't only focus on SUV's, but on the broader trend towards bigger, heavier and more powerful cars. More specific, our main message was that the car-industry can't use the promotion of biofuels as an alibi to hold them from getting the average fuel consumption down. As long as this is rising (and the offer of SUV's is one of the reasons), the ecological profit of new fuels and new technologies will be lost. Off course the media focussed on our anti-4x4 message, but online our broader message was picked up as well.

Besides that, 4x4info appeared in a debating program on french-speaking Brussels TV last Friday, and their dutch-speaking collegues were there yesterday to make a 6 minutes documentary on the subject of SUV's, congestion charge, ...

You can find an online-article here.