Last April, a handful of representatives from European and U.S. groups campaigning for more fuel-efficient cars gathered in Brussels to form what they're calling a global 4x4 campaigns network (or 4x4Network). The purpose of the gathering was to share experiences and knowledge in their common environmental cause and to plan joint action for the future. A couple of the more notable member organizations are Jumpstart Ford from the U.S. and the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s based in the U.K.

The group took their first public action recently at the Paris Motor Show where activists wore green helmets and stood between the stand of French automakers and the public. According to a press release, the green helmets symbolize the environmental equivalent of the blue helmets worn by the international peacekeeping forces which seek to prevent the escalation of armed conflicts.

The protest was a reaction to announcements of new 4x4 models made by French car manufacturers. According to 4x4Network, the move signals a failure of voluntary agreements with the EU to reduce carbon emissions. Blake Ludwig from the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s says that "the fact that the French car manufacturers are willing to market yet more SUVs, despite rising fuel prices and falling sales of these cars, is indicative of the lack of strategic insight within the automobile industry in general."

The press release doesn't specifically name the vehicles 4x4Network was protesting. A handful of SUVs debuted in Paris such as the new BMW X5, Land Rover Freelander and Mitsubishi Pajero, but the only French SUVs announced to my knowledge were a Peugeot that will use the Mitsubishi Outlander platform and the Renault Koleos which is slated to get a 2.0 liter 4-cylinder diesel engine. I'm also slightly confused as to why the group is focusing on French automakers. The press release does say that "French manufacturers have so far concentrated on making small and efficient cars," but I'm not sure why a history in efficiency should single them out in a public protest when other automakers continue to sell polluting SUVs in large quantities.

While I champion the underlying cause of the group (i.e., more fuel-efficient cars), I'm not sure I understand their actions. Hopefully, they'll release additional information revealing a bit more detail.

[Source: 4x4Network via ITV Motoring News]

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