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Greenpeace: Car Industry Green Claims A Fairy Tale

Car industry's green claims a fairy tale says Greenpeace

As automobile shows opened in Brussels and Vienna today, Greenpeace challenged the European car manufacturers to stop undermining a European proposal for more fuel efficient cars, and instead take real action to lower the climate impact of their fleets.

Dismissing the car makers' attempts to appear green as mere PR tactics, Greenpeace unfurled a giant banner of Pinnocchio in front of the European car show in Brussels. [1] "Just as Pinocchio couldn't be a real boy till he stopped telling lies, the car makers will never be green until they stop showing off a green image at car shows while filling the roads with ever heavier and more powerful gas guzzlers," said Helen Perivier, Energy Efficiency Project Leader for Greenpeace International.

Desperate to protect their market for heavier and more powerful cars, manufacturers last month succeeded in weakening an EU proposal to set mandatory carbon dioxide emissions standards for their fleets sold in Europe and push for further concessions. [2]

"Car makers are doing their utmost to present a green image. But behind the concept cars and niche models is a backstage effort to block climate saving legislation and promote a vast fleet of polluting vehicles, " said Franziska Achterberg, Transport Campaigner for Greenpeace European Unit.

Ten years ago European carmakers promised to bring down average emissions to 140g/km by now [3]. But the car makers' progress to put their cars on a carbon diet has stalled to a virtual standstill [4], while their promises have proven no more than a tactic to delay binding standards. Despite the fact that technologies exist to address these issues, the car makers continue to evade their responsibility to confront climate change today.

Greenpeace believes the EU proposal will fail to effectively control carbon dioxide emissions unless lawmakers strengthen it by including a 120g CO2/km standard as a fleet average for 2012; and a longer-term target of 80g CO2/km by 2020; base emission standards on a car's utility and not its weight; and sets effective penalties to ensure car manufacturers respect the new standards.

[1] Pinocchio wears a racing suit with logos of brands belonging to members of the European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA): Audi, BMW, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Land Rover, Mercedes Benz, Opel, Porsche, Peugeot, Renault, Saab Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo.

[2] Greenpeace Press Release: “Commission car emissions proposal fails climate challenge”, 19 December 2007

[3] Under a voluntary agreement, Europe's car makers committed to bring back fleet average emissions from new cars to 140g CO2/km by 2008. Japanese and Korean carmakers were to reach the same level by 2009. But by 2006, average emissions had not fallen below 160g CO2/km.

[4] European Environment Agency, “Europe’s Environment / The Fourth Assessment”, 2007, p. 314-315


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