Car industry executives face protest at key lobby meeting

Volkswagen behind campaign against laws to make our engines cleaner

Press release - December 2, 2011
Brussels - The chief executives of Europe’s biggest car companies were today confronted by Greenpeace activists as they gathered for a meeting to decide their EU lobbying strategy. The leaders of carmakers including Volkswagen (VW), BMW and Fiat are meeting to discuss their position on key legislation to make Europe’s vehicles more climate-friendly and use less fuel.

Greenpeace stormtroopers greet lobbyists for the car industry at a key meeting in Brussels


A 12-metre long van has been positioned outside the entrance to the car park at the headquarters of the carmakers’ lobbying outfit (the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association - ACEA), with some of Europe’s most powerful businessmen taking a walk of shame past a ‘guard of dishonor’ of eleven activists dressed in Star Wars Stormtooper outfits carrying signs reading ‘car lobby meeting this way’.

Greenpeace believes car companies may try and block the new climate law, or demand loopholes to make it significantly weaker.

The Star Wars theme was adopted because Volkswagen used it in popular adverts. VW is at the centre of car industry opposition to European car efficiency measures and has more representatives at today’s lobbying meeting than any other company. [1]

Greenpeace climate campaigner Sara Ayech said: “The executives gathering for this meeting have the power to undermine a law that would be good for the climate, clean air and car drivers. VW has been the worst of the bunch, spending millions trying to strangle moves to make our engines burn less oil. These companies are producing adverts full of claims about how green they are, but now it is time for them to walk the walk. That means embracing strong efficiency targets enshrined in law without loopholes.”

With a new piece of car efficiency legislation under preparation for 2012, the European Commission is seeking the views of the car industry and other stakeholders in a meeting next week. The EU legislation under consideration would reduce car emissions to a maximum of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre by 2020. ACEA could decide to back this target but then still lobby for loopholes that would effectively weaken it to 110g CO2/km or more. Volkswagen has described the 95g legislative target as “not based on sound impact assessment nor on a realistic appreciation of the costs and technical progress necessary to meet the goal within the timescale”. [2]

When a previous EU car efficiency law was being prepared, carmakers lobbied hard to delay and weaken the standards, and yet time has shown that most of their alarmist claims were not borne out in reality. In fact, many companies will meet the legal requirements even earlier than they have to. [3]

Greenpeace argues carmakers can and should develop car fleets that on average emit no more than 80g CO2/km by 2020. A further target of 60g CO2/km by 2025 should be set when the EU reviews fuel efficiency laws next year. The US has recently proposed its own 2025 target for carmakers embraced by thirteen global carmakers including BMW, Toyota and Hyundai but not VW. [4]


Greenpeace UK climate campaigner Sara Ayech +44 7986 075829

Greenpeace Germany energy campaigner Christoph von Lieven +49 1718 780802

Greenpeace EU press officer Jack Hunter +32 4769 88584

Pictures / video

For pictures of today’s action, available around lunchtime, call Angela Glienicke +44 20 7865 8294

For video via FTP download, available around lunchtime, call Marge Glynn +44 207 865 8122

[1] See Greenpeace report The Dark Side of Volkswagen at

[2] Quote from a letter to Greenpeace, 14 June 2010.

[3] See Greenpeace briefing Claims versus reality: How the European car lobby proved itself wrong at



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Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Greenpeace does not accept donations from governments, the EU, businesses or political parties.