Way up north, in a land far, far away, a legion of seven-year-old children armed with light sabers have taken on Europe’s biggest carmaker – Volkswagen – to highlight its poor environmental record.
Despite a carefully crafted image as a family-friendly and environmentally responsible company - an image delivered through sometimes jaw-droppingly good advertising - Volkswagen is using its huge political muscle to lobby against key environmental laws in Europe and the United States. Indeed, it is part of an influential lobby group trying to block a new carbon target that would boost the European economy and cut carbon emissions.
For a company that seems to be at the cutting edge of car technology, with the know-how to clean up its cars and make them more fuel efficient, this is hugely out of date. Instead Volkswagen choose to bloat its vehicle fleets with gas guzzlers and argue that tough targets to slash emissions are just too challenging.
This however, seems hopelessly out of step with a world that is moving towards a low carbon economy. Our home, Earth, is in trouble and more and more progressive governments and businesses agree. Indeed, countries like the UK and Denmark along with international heavy weight companies such as Unilever, IKEA, and Google all back action to reduce climate wrecking emissions as they believe it would make Europe’s economy stronger and greener.
And this epic battle to overcome the dark forces that are blocking action on climate change doesn’t seem that many light years away from the struggle we face here in New Zealand.
John Key’s Empire seems just as out of touch and isolated. With its obsessive pursuit of deepwater oil along our coastlines, its lust for lignite and the failure to implement meaningful emission reductions targets, we too risk becoming a pariah in the global efforts to stop runaway climate change.
Instead of increasing our dependence on oil (just think Stephen Joyce’s plans to spend $10 billion on new roads), which will expose us to volatile price spikes and resource constraints, we need a plan to secure our future energy security and build a prosperous and resilient economy. We need policies that will drive investment in our home-grown, clean technology pioneering companies and deliver more efficient, sustainable transport schemes. And improving the efficiency of vehicles is one way we can do it. The logic is simple - reducing the amount of oil our cars need reduces the justification for oil companies going into more dangerous and difficult to reach places.
So it’s time to make a stand. Unless we want our planet to go the same way as Alderaan (bye, bye), all of us in the rebellion must call upon our governments and those companies such as Volkswagen to turn away from the Darkside and help move us to a cleaner, smarter future.
Sign up to join the international rebellion to turn VW away from the dark side.
May the force be with you.