Greenpeace targets Volkswagen

Automologist MAC agrees and disagrees with Greenpeace; read on to find out why…  

Greenpeace, the environmental group more commonly known for saving whales, has boarded and occupied a vehicle carrier ship, in an attempt to block its shipment of Volkswagen cars from being delivered to the UK.

Some of the activists boarded the ship from Germany, before it docked at the British Port of Sheerness in the county of Kent, and attached themselves to the rear unloading ramp, thus blocking the ramp from being lowered and the cargo of cars from being unloaded. Another group apparently gained access to the unloading area, where the cars await distribution to dealers, and unfurled banners that highlighted the environmental impact of diesel vehicles.

In the UK, September is traditionally the top sales month for new cars as the public react to the ‘plate change’, and I am sure that the protest by my hemp-trouser-wearing friends at Greenpeace was timed to coincide with this, although it is unclear if the protest would have any impact on sales in the UK.

In a bit of a limp lettuce response to the protest, Volkswagen was quick to point out the ship contained more petrol than diesel than cars; also being shipped were 37 plug-in hybrids, and all the diesels meet strict Euro 6 standards. Volkswagen, of course, was the main culprit in the now infamous Dieselgate affair, whereby a major car company was caught lying about the emissions from its vehicles, and many of us do not fully trust them yet.

As a result of the affair, new regulations were brought in, but more importantly there was a major shift in public opinion. Diesel-powered vehicles, which was once encouraged by governments, were seen as major polluters as, although they produce less CO2, there are greater amounts of other toxins that cause a raft of health problems.

Greenpeace is calling for Volkswagen, amongst others, to shift to “fully electric” vehicles, and although most major manufacturers are gradually moving across to a greater mix of hybrids and EVs, this is not fast enough for Greenpeace. The environmentalists have been protesting at the Frankfurt motor show as well, and they are running a series of protest that included a rather stunning Tourag Sculpture…

I do support the ideals of Greenpeace, but need to point out that battery-powered electric vehicles (BEVs, as they are becoming known) are still not particularly clean. Firstly, much of the electricity comes from dirty old coal- or gas- or even oil-powered refineries. Secondly, the materials that make up the batteries is often extracted in exploitative and environmentally damaging ways.

images: Reuters via; Greenpeace;; Gazette Times

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