Cracks appear in VW ranks as polar bears invade Brussels motor show

Posted by jamie — 12 January 2012 at 2:33pm - Comments
Polars bears lounge around a VW Polo at the Brussels motor show
All rights reserved. Credit: Sara Ayech/Greenpeace
Polars bears lounge around a VW Polo at the Brussels motor show

VW has been ignoring our requests for a meeting, so we've paid a visit to its exhibition stand at the Brussels Motor Show.

Or, to be more precise, dozens of polar bears (including the majestic Paula Bear) have invaded the prestigious Autosalon 2012 event to protest about the impact that Volkswagen and the rest of the car industry is having on our climate and the Arctic.

The polar bears have been congregating around VW's show models, many of which are nowhere near as efficient as they could be such as the controversial new Up! which a couple of cheeky bears managed to squeeze inside. Yet VW claims to be the most environmentally-friendly car maker out there. And banners hung by climbers in the rafters in the exhibition hall have ensured that everyone gets the message.

We’ve just heard that there are hints of dissension within VW's ranks. Representatives from VW Belgium talked with Sara from our campaign team - they said they think VW should be making all its cars as efficient as possible, not to mention backing stronger European emissions targets which VW has so far tried to block. Does this mean a split is forming within VW's workforce?

The link between car makers and the disappearing ice sheets in the frozen north is crystal clear. As oil consumption grows, so do our carbon emissions which accelerates climate change and reduces ice cover in the Arctic.

The car companies' lobbying group is blocking attempts to bring in tighter emissions targets across Europe and dragging their feet on making their cars more efficient.

The great irony is the retreating ice is encouraging oil companies to go drilling in extreme, dangerous environments. In fact, you may recognise the bears in action today from the protest at oil drilling outfit Cairn Energy's head offices last year (I can't show you a picture of said polar bears sadly, as there's still an injunction preventing me from doing so).

Obviously, we would love to meet with VW to discuss all this but a scheduled conference between our campaign team and Martin Winterkorn, the chair of VW's board, was cancelled. Not postponed – cancelled. What on earth is he afraid of?

Over the past week, thousands of people have been using Facebook to ask VW bosses why they won't meet with us – we haven't received a response yet. If you want to help out, join the Jedi Council on Facebook and post some messages to VW. The Belgian VW reps said they would ask Winterkorn to meet with us, so we may have help on the inside too.

But until VW gets behind more ambitious emissions targets, we're not going anywhere.

Come on Martin Winterkorn, we really aren't that scary, come and meet Greenpeace... we just want VW to live up to its green image and stop lobbying against climate change legislation. That's about as easy as a campaign 'ask' gets!

I joined the Jedi Council, and have been asking Volkswagen UK and VW in other countries to follow VW Belgium's lead and ask Martin Winterkorn to meet with Greenpeace. Volkswagen have so far ignored over a thousand comments from us, but the pressure is growing and we need to keep it up. Lots of help and advice on what and where to post here:

a) and c): well, that's your opinion.

b) VW might like to play up the efficiency of its cars, but only 6 per cent of those sold in 2010 were of its most efficient models. And as explained above, VW is trying to block EU legislation to reduce vehicle emissions quicker than you can say 'double standards'.

About Jamie

I'm a forests campaigner working mainly on Indonesia. My personal mumblings can be found @shrinkydinky.

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