Friday, March 21, 2008

Big Polluters Like Porsche or Rolls-Royce Have to Change

Today Europe's environment chief Stavros Dimas said that he personally sympathised with a plea made on the BBC recently by the former Shell boss Sir Mark Moody-Stuart.

In a Green Room article he urged the EU to set minimum standards for car efficiency in the same way they set minimum standards for fridges. He suggested totally banning cars that manage less than 35 mpg.

That would mean big polluters like Porsche or Rolls-Royce would have to radically change the way they make their cars or be banned from sale.

Mr Dimas said there was a clear ethical case for this argument - but that Europe had to protect its own industries too - and would stick by the current policy of asking manufacturers to produce 130g of CO2/km across the fleet.

Backtracking under pressure by the automotive lobby, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has done a complete climate change U-turn. According to the Times, “I will be standing up particularly for jobs in Germany’s car sector,” she said, under pressure from manufacturers such as Mercedes, Audi and Porsche which face big fines if they do not reduce exhaust emissions substantially.

According to Mr Moody-Stuart: " Without regulation to channel their power, markets will not deliver things which are of no immediate benefit to the individual making his or her choice, even though they may be beneficial to society."

This really is becoming a war between protecting the old economic industries and moving on to protect the planet. But can governments really afford to dig their heels in the ground?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Launch of New Website

Today we launched our new UK website to enable people across the UK to make complaints about car adverts that either have no CO2 info, or font type so small no one can read it.

According to the new website, most billboards look like this one. The font size should be large enough to read easily from a passing car. Here you hardly see the information at all, so it is highly unlawful:

But if the auto manufacturers really wanted to give consumers the information that they need to make an informed choice, then an advertisement would look like this example below:

Monday, March 17, 2008

new Video: Do You Really Need a 4x4?

A Welcome Tax Rise for 4x4s

Drivers of luxury 4x4s and other gas guzzlers are to be shamed into buying less polluting vehicles under new plans by the Chancellor.

In a shakeup of car taxation, buyers of VED band G cars will be landed with a new first year 'registration' charge of £950, before it reverts to £400. Other cars would be charged on a sliding scale. Cars below the threshold of 130 gm CO2/km will not be charged a registration tax. 6 new VED tax bands will be introduced as well.

Also welcome is a new report from Professor Julia King. She has called for showrooms to display the 'lifetime' cost of a vehicle. The study believes consumers could be persuaded to buy cleaner cars if they are told how much a 4x4 could cost them.

Example: A 4.4 liter petrol Range Rover, driven 12,000 miles a year for 10 years would cost more than £35,000 in petrol and vehicle excise duty, while a diesel Peugeot 307 would cost only £11,000.

There are also moves to introduce a colour coded tax disc system to highlight the most polluting vehicles.

According to the Times, the Government should do more to encourage manufacturers to develop new models. Sue Robinson of the Retail Motor Industry Federation said, "Consumers need to be given a proper choice, and manufacturers and vehicle dealers need to be able to give it to them. "

Mayor and TfL Prepared to Fight Porsche in Courts

Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone and Transport for London (TfL) rejected a demand by luxury and sports car manufacturer Porsche to scrap plans for a higher £25 Congestion Charge for the very highest CO2 emitting cars, including many of the so-called Chelsea Tractors, the most powerful sports cars and some luxury executive cars, as part of the capital's plans to tackle climate change and cut congestion.

Ken Livingstone said: "Porsche have a clear vested interest in attempting to block this ground breaking scheme, against the interests of Londoners as a whole. They should focus their attentions on cutting CO2 emissions from the cars they produce, rather than pursuing this pointless legal action which we will vigorously contest. We have already seen several motor manufacturers rise to the challenge of cutting CO2 emissions from their cars and Porsche should join them.

Michèle Dix, Managing Director of Planning, TfL, said: "The Congestion Charge scheme has been a success at cutting congestion and traffic, with around 70,000 less vehicles a day entering the original central zone. Without it congestion in central London would be far worse.

"The principal aim of the scheme remains tackling congestion. The aim of the CO2 Charge element and discount of the scheme is to cut CO2 emissions by reducing the number of very high emitting cars driving in central London, influencing people's car purchasing choices and by stimulating the market for low emissions cars.

"At the moment, 17 per cent of cars driving in the charge zone are in Band G, while just 2 per cent are in Band's A and B. We expect to see the number of Band G cars cut significantly over time."

Specifically setting out to Porsche why their objections are unfounded, the Mayor and TfL made clear that:

· The CO2 Charge is about reducing CO2 emissions from cars driving in central London, whilst reducing congestion, as part of the Mayor's Transport Strategy and Climate Change Action Plan; and

· It is quite clear motorists have the choice not to drive a high CO2 emitting, car in central London, given the wide range of lower emitting cars available. Along with the higher £25 Charge for the cars emitting the most CO2, there will be a 100% discount for the least emitting.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The 4x4 Ads of Tomorrow - Today

A new report from Belgium claims that 99% of car adverts published in newspapers and magazines and on roadside hoardings in the European Union are illegal, because they fail to comply with European Directive 1999/94/EC, which stipulates that a vehicle’s fuel consumption and its CO2 emissions must be "easy to read and no less prominent than the main part of the information provided in the [advert]".

Have a look for yourself: try to find this information on a car ad. If you look hard enough you will find it - displayed in tiny letters. Far less prominent than the "main part of the information", i.e. the advertising slogans. In practice, the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are virtually impossible to read without a magnifying glass!

So they have suggested a new look for advertisements, which we think is dead on.

In October 2007 the European Parliament recommended - by a large majority - "that a minimum of 20% of the space devoted to advertising should provide information on fuel economy and CO2 emissions". If this recommendation were followed, a car advert would look like the picture to the right.

We think consumers have a right to know how much CO2 is emitted by the cars that manufacturers are trying to sell them.

ASA News: Hummer H3 'Greenwash' Advert removed

General Motors, manufacturers of the controversial Hummer H3 4x4, was told to remove any claims of fuel efficiency from their advertising materials. This follows a complaint to the Advertising Standards Agency by Friends of the Earth Scotland, members of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, and several NGOs. The motor giant's newspaper adverts claimed the H3 was a fuel efficient vehicle. However, the Hummer H3 is one of the least fuel efficient vehicles on the market.

According to Duncan McLaren, Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland, "The notion that a gas-guzzling monster like a Hummer could be regarded as in any way "fuel-efficient" is laughable. We're pleased that GM have responded promptly to the threat of an ASA ruling, and pulled the claim. However, it remains the case that such climate trashing vehicles can still be advertised without any environmental or health warning. This would ensure consumers were properly informed of the risks such vehicles pose."

The advert claimed that the vehicle has "Half the calories. All the flavour" and that is was "Built for UK roads, it's smaller, fuel efficient...".

What else do we need to say?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Porsche's PR Disaster

Nobody could have imagined the PR disaster that sports car maker Porsche would stir when they publicly challenged London mayor Ken Livingstone's new C Charge proposals. And they couldn't have provided a better launchpad for our new campaign to push for tighter CO2 emissions standards for all car manufacturers.

First Dom Joly wrote a piece all about Porsche envy: "Weirdly, I don't actually mind Livingstone picking on Porsche drivers – not because I think he's correct about them being environmentally unsound; I think it's a drop in the ocean – but because pretty much everyone who owns one is a twat. I should know - I was one of them."

Joly continues, "I still don't know why I did it. I hate sports cars and Porsche was the symbol of every City moron that I hated back in the late-Eighties. It was the symbol that you'd "made it", that you were now a fully fledged cock, with your thick pinstripe shirts, Ray-Ban sunglasses and bulging Filofax."

Then I spotted a piece in a column by Simon Goodley where he writes: "It's a bloody cheek...Us Porsche owners are up in arms. We spend our bonuses on an expensive sports motor, so the last thing we want is to pay the same congestion charge as somebody with an effin' Toyota. We want the premium rate. I'm right with Ken on this one."

And now John Whitmore has enetered into the fray with his motoring editorial Charge of the selfish brigade. He writes, "So Porsche has decided to throw its toys out of its pram over the new London congestion charge for cars emitting more than 225g/km of carbon dioxide, and will attempt to overturn mayor Ken Livingstone's new London car constraint policy with a judicial review."

"This sham fit of populist pique fails to obscure the unbridled commercial self-interest that drives it, and reveals a corporate contempt for any form of public responsibility. Porsche claims that the £25 daily charge is "unjust", when it is not a justice issue at all, that it is a 3,025 per cent increase, which is irrelevant, and that it won't help to decrease vehicle emissions, which it will. The German sports car maker's stance comes across as a poorly conceived publicity stunt, and I don't believe for a moment that it is stupid enough to proceed with its threat."

Continuing, he writes, "It is because Porsche and other gas-guzzling manufacturers and their customers are less than fully responsible that congestion charges, speed cameras, speed humps and the like are deployed to curb their excesses. Now that man-made climate change is no longer deniable, there are no more excuses. Their behaviour is reminiscent of the US National Rifle Association, the cabal of gun manufacturers and gun-toting rednecks whose "right to bear arms" goes unchallenged by weak-willed or like-minded legislators, despite the horrendous number of gun deaths, as many from accidents as from crime."

We actually think Porsche bear a resemblance to ExxonMobile, who for a decade not only actively denied climate change was real and happening, but also prevented the US from signing up to the Kyoto Protocol.