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.