Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's a KO! - Watch as FoE Pounces on Porsche

Last week Porsche said it intended to judicially challenge the Mayor of London's plans to increase the London congestion charge to £25 for gas guzzlers.

Watch the Sky News Interview as Tony Juniper, Executive Director for Friends of the Earth, takes on Andy Goss, Managing Director of Porsche UK in Mayfair. (video in the toolbar)

The result is quite entertaining. Dance like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Alliance and Signatories Tell Porsche to Drop Case

On Saturday we launched our new petition, addressed to Porsche in Mayfair as well as their CEO Wendelin Wiedeking. We think that policy on tackling pollution in London is a matter for Londoners, not car companies. We support the CO2 Charge and demand Porsche drop their court action.

We've joined forces with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and London Assembly members.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

2007 Sales Figures from ACEA Highlight Need for Tough Emissions Targets

New vehicle registration figures released by ACEA this week prove that stronger EU intervention is required to shift the market.

In their February 2008 economic report, ACEA states the 4x4 segment saw a steady increase in demand (+22% in 2007 compared to 2006), accounting for 9.9% of new registrations in 2007 against 3.5% in 1998. Registrations of the cars emitting less than 120g of CO2 per kilometer have also risen and accounted for over 10% of the total EU new car registrations between January and October 2007.

Assuming that no 4x4 emits less that 175 gm/km CO2, we conclude that sales of 4x4's are offsetting any positive progress made by people who buy more fuel efficient vehicles under 120 gm/km CO2.

Road transport currently contributes over 20% of total CO2 emissions across Europe. Unless there is a strong incentive to shift or distort the vehicle market, there can be no real carbon reductions within the transport sector. Tough EU emissions targets for the car manufacturers, along with higher registration taxes for big gas guzzlers, and rewards for purchasing low-emissions vehicles, will help to move the market to meet it’s average target of 120gm/km CO2 by 2012.

Society is becoming increasingly aware and concerned about global warming. While people are switching to smaller and less polluting cars, the increased market for 4x4s is offsetting any progress.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Legal Challenge By Porsche Highlights How Polluting Their Cars Are

Porsche’s legal challenge today over new Congestion Charge plans highlights how polluting their cars actually are. Porsche only produce gas guzzling and high-carbon emitting sports cars and SUV’s falling in VED tax bands F & G.

In fact – rather than focusing on the C Charge, the spotlight should be on the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. It is one of the most polluting 4x4s, with 378gCO2/km - that's nearly four times the level of the lowest emission petrol car, the VW Polo Blue Motion.

We think Londoners, not Porsche, should decide whether or not to proceed with the CO2 charge on gas guzzling vehicles. They will have the chance to do so at the ballot box on 1 May, because if they don't like Ken Livingstone's proposal they can vote for one of the candidates who oppose it.

What Porsche are trying to do is use the courts is stop Londoners from being able to take that democratic decision about their city - because they know this measure is popular with Londoners.

We know from the enormous amount of support for our campaign, and from our own surveys, that charging the most polluting cars a higher congestion charge is already very popular with the public. When we started campaigning for this measure in 2005, we asked 5,400 shoppers in central London their opinion and 95 percent agreed with the idea. This level of support has been mirrored in similar surveys done.

The new C Charge follows the polluter-pays principle. Why should ordinary Londoners who are making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint have to, in fact, subsidize those who choose to pollute more? The CO2 charge is designed to encourage people not to drive the most polluting cars. If anyone needs a large family car there are plenty of good cars in band F. And if they do choose to drive a band G gas-guzzler then they should have to pay for the pollution they inflict on everyone else.

This measure sends a strong and clear message to those manufacturers, like Porsche, who are putting their heads in the sand rather than clean up their vehicle fleets. They are perfectly able to make cars in every class, including 4x4s, that don't create the excessive amounts of emissions of band G cars, yet that is where most have traditionally profited. With this new C Charge helping to change people's buying habits, the pressure is now on manufacturers to produce and advertise cleaner cars for their UK customers.

We don’t see BMW fighting the C Charge – in fact, BMW and MINI’s market were strengthened with the Mayor of London’s announcement of a new charging structure for entering the capital. There would be no C Charge for the BMW 118d three- and five-door, MINI Cooper D and MINI Cooper D Clubman.

Unlike BMW, who have premier sports models falling in Band B, 43 out of 45 Porsche vehicles fall in Band G, the 2 others in band F. The truth is, Porsche are at the top of the league table as the most polluting carmaker.

Last year, Porsche challenged the EU Commission as they drew up plans to set tough CO2 targets for the car industry. Porsche, who would be most affected by the new EU regulations, would need to cut an average of 138gCO2/km per car. Now the German car manufacturer wants to threaten Londoners for wanting to do something about climate change.

Monday, February 18, 2008

We're Not Anti-Car, But...

I'd like to set the record straight. We're not anti-car.

Unlike some of our green colleagues who want only to rid the city of cars altogether, we've always understood that some may need a car. What we do find more interesting is redirecting the current trajectory of personal mobility away from large gas-guzzling, clumsy and poorly designed vehicles to something new, graceful and a harmonius part of our environment.

The 4x4 (4-wheel drive) was originally designed to be a service vehicle for wartime - an all-terrain vehicle. Unfortunately, that capability isn't required in the city, yet due to their glorification and slick psychological manipulation by the advertising agencies, these clumsy cars have achieved star status. That's what we are actively undermining.

This is the cold reality of our times: with the urgency of climate change intersecting our pathway of self-centered economic advancement, our increasingly congested environment is screaming for new solutions.

Filling our land with increasingly larger, more powerful belching vehicles isn't the future we're prepared to accept.

Unfortunately for our detractors, we've already won. The minute that 4x4s started to be debated openly in public, our campaign won because it reached the 85% who also see they are not the future.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s is celebrating victory today after Mayor Ken Livingstone confirmed a scheme to levy a higher congestion charge on gas-guzzling cars in London.

The Mayor outlined the results of a three-month public consultation in late 2007. The new emissions-based Congestion Charge will create a sliding scale of charges for cars emitting higher and lower levels of carbon dioxide emissions.

Cleaner cars in VED tax bands A and B will receive a 100% discount on the current rate of £8, and cars in the highest-emitting band G will pay a higher rate of £25 per day.

The announcement follows a determined campaign by our Alliance. We produced a detailed report in 2006 proposing the scheme. The Alliance's report set out how the sliding payments could be implemented in response to TfL's dismissal of the idea of an emissions-related charge in 2004.

We're delighted with the level of public support for the emissions-based charge – this is key policy we have called for since we began our campaign. We look forward to seeing these measures finally doing something positive to reduce dirty, wasteful, unnecessarily large 4x4s and other highly polluting cars from our streets.

There is simply no need for these vehicles in our cities and the evidence shows that financial penalties, like a £25 congestion charge, will make a real difference to shifting consumers to use public transport more or to drive a less polluting car. Our report to the Mayor demonstrated that a higher charge could deter up to 40% of 4x4s [and other Band G cars] from coming into central London.

We know from the enormous amount of support for our campaign, and from our own surveys, that charging the most polluting cars a higher congestion charge will be very popular with the public. When we started campaigning for this measure in 2005, we asked 5,400 shoppers in central London their opinion and 95 percent agreed with the idea. This level of support has been mirrored in similar surveys.

Naturally, we are delighted with today's announcement. Not only have we changed the image of 4x4s and made them less popular and less acceptable for city driving, we have now achieved this concrete measure that we hope will work to reduce the number of dangerous, polluting cars in our city and set an example to cities everywhere.

This measure also sends a strong message to those manufacturers who are currently failing to clean up their vehicle fleets. They are perfectly able to make cars in every class, including 4x4s, that don't create the excessive amounts of emissions of band G cars, yet that is where they profit the most. With this new Congestion Charge helping to change people's buying habits, the pressure is now on manufacturers to produce and advertise cleaner cars for their UK customers.

Sucess! Ken Signs Higher Charges for Band G Gas Guzzlers

Today marked a victory for our campaign. Since 2004 we have campaigned for a higher congestion charge in London for 4x4s and other gas guzzlers.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

British Caravans - Are Brits the Fatso's of Europe?

Our caravaning correspondent keeps us posted on the latest news from the caravaning world. She writes, "This month's C&C Club magazine features an article on lightweight caravans (in fact it's their cover feature). They are being quite clever as they are not directly criticizing 4x4's as they no doubt realize many of their members own them, but focus on their higher CO2 emissions and higher fuel consumption as well as pointing out smaller cars are better for town driving."

"The article features caravans suitable for towing by the Ford Focus (hooray!) and the Fiat Brava. I didn't realize why some caravans are really heavy but apparently its directly due to the level of equipment - that 24'' TV weighs a lot and so does the double oven- and the C&C Club ask if people really need all of this high spec stuff."

"Many foreign caravans have a very low level of equipment (but are not necessarily lower on quality) and are quite light but sadly, British-made caravans tend to be packed with equipment and are therefore very heavy. The C&C Club says our attitudes need to change before our own manufacturers take lightweight caravans seriously (although they do predict they will)."

Is This Climate Action by Walthamforest Council?

We received this blogger entry from Waltham Forest exposing the Council's latest Climate Change Strategy:

"This house on The Risings E17 has a drive and a garage. The Council has cleared the way for the acquisition of up to three more vehicles by permitting footway parking. And naturally if you bow down to the 4 X 4 brigade, they will take even more space than they are allocated...

The Council beseeches residents to ‘Help us tackle climate change’. It grandly announces that it is working on a ‘climate change strategy’ with its ‘partners’.

This is characteristic impudence and hypocrisy on the part of a Council which month by month, year after year, snatches more and more pavement space for car parking, and by so doing promoting multiple car ownership and use at the expense of non-car owning households. Cars so physically dominate our streets, including hundreds of local pavements, that it is easy to forget that nearly half of us in London don’t even own a car.

But now this rush to turn more and more space over to car parking has upset car owners! This is naturally a very serious matter."

Monday, February 04, 2008

EU Should Ban Inefficient Cars

Ahhh. It's music to our ears. The sweet sound of common sense from a businessman. Finally.

Today, BBC news reported the ex-Chairman of Shell felt the EU really ought to ban inefficient cars (cars that get below 35 miles per gallon), and he believes industry will follow stricter environmental guidelines.

"Nobody needs a car that does 10-15 mpg (miles per gallon, 19-28 litres per 100 kilometres)," Mark Moody-Stuart was quoted as saying.

According to Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, "We need very tough regulation saying that you can't drive or build something less than a certain standard. You would be allowed to drive an Aston Martin - but only if it did 50-60mpg."

He continues, "When we eliminated coal fires in London we didn't say to people in Chelsea you can pay a bit more and toast your crumpets in front of an open fire - we said nobody, but nobody, could have an open fire.

"When we introduced catalytic converters the car-makers said it would put the price of cars through the roof - but it didn't. Now we all have to have catalytic converters - that's only right."

"Government's job is to set the framework in which industry can compete," he added. "The market is a magical thing - it will meet people's convenience but it needs guiding."

He said the EU was far too lax with motor manufacturers.

Sir Mark sums it up in his BBC Green Room opinion piece: "You can buy the roomiest, vroomiest car, as long as it meets the efficiency standard."

"My wife and I have driven a hybrid since 2001 and it is a beautiful and comfortable piece of engineering, silent and will do 100mph (we tried it, but not in England!)."

"That may not be the best technology - the market will find out. But we must constrain the market in an efficiency framework."

"To achieve the same through taxation would mean fuel taxes at levels which would play havoc with industry, countryside dwellers and the poor who need transport."

Now - it takes 2 to dance. Will the ministers listen?