The British International Motor Show, held annually at the NEC, is the largest of its kind in Europe. It has become a showcase for new models and innovation in the industry. However the show is being criticised this year for its involvement in what environmentalists are calling the irresponsible promotion of Car Culture.
The protesters, wearing wet weather gear marked with tyre tracks and dancing to a samba band, brandished a model globe with a tyre track across it bearing the slogan "What was that Bump?" at passing representatives of the car industry.
The demonstrators joined the spirit of the show in celebrating the future of the motor car industry, a future they claim will be characterised by flooding, hurricanes and other extreme weather as global warming worsens due to the continued burning of fossil fuels. However they carried a serious message to the Show, hailed by organisers as the biggest ever, as the trade day kicked off this morning. Today's opening coincides with the start in New Dehli of the next round of international climate talks, COP8 [i] .
Jenny Thatcher of Birmingham Friends of the Earth said "‘As World Leaders struggle to come to an agreement on how to act on climate change, we shamelessly glorify one of the Western World's biggest consumers of fossil fuels [ii] . Climate change is the most serious threat we face in the 21st century. We're calling on the car industry, international governments and members of the public to take this issue seriously, demand a decent public transport system and to cut their car use. This is about appropriate use of technology – cars have their uses, but so do fire engines, and this doesn't mean everyone needs to have a fire engine parked outside their house."
This new wave of protest comes in the wake of the Government's announcement of the first traffic congestion charges, in Durham. Next February a £5 charge will be levied on motorists entering the city of London.
However demonstrators are not simply protesting about climate change. Concerns have also been raised about the social, health and political costs associated with the national addiction to driving (see note iii).
They are calling for a localised, foot-based transport future where the car is an accessory not a necessity.
For more information, please see www.greenbirmingham.com/footwork, or contact Birmingham Friends of the Earth on 0121 632 6909.
Birmingham Friends of the Earth is a local volunteer-led environmental campaigning group, linked to Friends of the Earth England and Wales
For Further Details Please Contact
Birmingham Friends of the Earth
54-57 Allison Street
0121 632 6909/0776 1234 945
Rising Tide is an international network of organisations campaigning on climate change, established at The Hague in 2000.
For Further Details Please Contact
01865 241 097
Notes to Editors
[i] This is the eigth meeting of the international Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in New Dehli from 23rd October to 2nd November 2002. A major issue on the agenda will be resolution of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change, which includes pledges by governments to reduce CO2 emissions.
[ii] The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated that in 1995 the transport sector contributed 24% of all global energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide. Emissions from this sector are growing at a rate of around 2.5% per year. The IPCC also claims that reductions in this sector are made far more difficult by government policies aimed at protecting road transport interest. (IPCC, 2001).
[iii] More information on the social and political problems associated with car dependence can be found at www.greenbirmingham.com/footwork, the website of the footwork Movement.
[iiii] Rising Tide is an national network of grassroots climate campaign organisations- see www.risingtide.org.uk