Fred and Wilma Flintstone kindly lent their 'vintage' car to some of our activists for the day. We wanted to drive it to the European Parliament and deliver a stone tablet bearing the logos of Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes alongside the message "Driving climate change". The car industry is well and truly stuck in the stone age, with potentially dire consequences for the climate.
The car industry is still trapped in the "dinosaur dynamic" of building ever-faster and increasingly powerful gas-guzzlers at the expense of the climate.
Our Flintstone's car journey started from the headquarters of
the European car lobby group ACEA. This group represents the major
European car manufactures and lobbies European politicians to
prevent growing carbon dioxide emissions from cars being
effectively curbed by regulation. Unfortunately
police arrested our car before it could reach the European
Parliament. In contrast lobbyists from the ACEA, determined to
ensure the special interests of the car industry come before
tackling climate change, continue to enjoy unfettered access to
Next week, Europe's MEPs are going to be discussing some new
proposals to make car manufacturers clean up their act. If the new
plans are approved, manufacturers will have to limit the amount of
carbon dioxide that comes out of car exhausts. We want MEPs to be
left in no doubt that these measures are desperately needed if
climate change is to be effectively limited.
The measures are not before time. Our new report
"Driving Climate Change" reveals how the car industry, led by
the German car companies, has misled and manipulated Europe's
policy makers for the past 17 years, to stop them from imposing
mandatory limits on emissions. Each time Europe has suggested
introducing legislation, car makers have been quick to claim that
laws aren't needed because they will take sufficient action
voluntarily. Of course they've done no such thing.
In fact, the industry has used gains in performance to build
heavier and more powerful cars rather than deliver more fuel
efficiency. The EU has let them get away with it. Now they realise
that the car industry's stone age attitude might mean Europe could
miss its carbon emission reduction targets.
The willingness of the EU to roll over in the past has no doubt
been helped by some of the underhand lobbying tactics employed by
the car industry. Our report details how manufacturers have
rewarded political supporters with loaned cars and other perks and
explains how Europe's Commissioner with responsibility for
enterprise and industry, Verheugen, formed an influential lobby
group, CARS 21, which used his access at the very highest levels to
lean on policy makers.
This year the EU is pledging to take action. To be effective the
legislation must ensure the average new car sold in 2012 emits just
120g of CO2 per km, and for that standard to be strengthened to a
limit of 80g p/km by 2020. Even though the EU is currently
proposing legislation that doesn't
do quite enough the car industry is fighting tooth and nail to
make sure it doesn't go through.
The European Parliament must stand firm and resist the car
lobby's attempts to run down the EU's first ever fuel economy
standard. The new law should also impose penalties on manufacturers
who fail to meet the new standards and resist attempts to give
special treatment to the makers of heavy cars. If they do, the car
industry will finally have met its match.
Please write to the Germany's Chancellor, Angela Merkel, today asking her to support strong emissions standards.
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