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?