Greenpeace ‘crashed’ a car into the wall of Madrid’s Reina Sofía art museum yesterday (Thursday) to campaign for petrol and diesel to be scrapped in accordance with longer-term environmental guidelines.
If Spain is to comply with the Paris Treaty on climate change, petrol and diesel cars will have to stop being sold by the year 2030 at the latest, with all vehicles being powered by electricity or renewable sources.
Canadian environmental charity Greenpeace ‘re-registered’ a sawn-off car with the number plate FIN 2028 (‘END 2028’) and parked it halfway through an existing gap in the ground-level wall below the entrance to one of the Madrid art trail’s ‘Big Three’, hanging a canvas wall around it with scattered papier mâché bricks in the same design as the original, so it looked as though the car had collided and smashed through it.
They carried banners reading ‘2028: Neither diesel nor petrol’, plus one in American English reading ‘2028: Extinction of fossil fueled cars’, and hung a larger one on the railings above the ‘crashed’ vehicle reading: ‘2028: Polluting cars belong in museums’.
Although Greenpeace’s choice of museum venue may have been simply due to the structure allowing for their design to be easily constructed, it may have been the Reina Sofía National Art Centre Museum’s initials: the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía is known in shorthand as MNCARS.
This eye-catching protest came at the same time as Greenpeace presented its Europe-wide research showing that the number of diesel and petrol cars on the continent’s roads would need to be cut by 80% by the year 2035 in order to meet the Paris Treaty criteria of preventing the planet’s average temperature from rising by more than 1.5ºC.
If Europe is to comply with the Paris Treaty on climate change – “the biggest global commitment ever seen to date,” as Greenpeace describes it – then, according to the research commissioned by the charity from the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), manufacture and sales of vehicles using conventional fuel will need to stop well before 2030 – at least two years before – so that by the 2035 deadline, all bar 20% of diesel and petrol cars would have effectively outlived their expected lifespan.
Second-hand cars using fossil fuel and parts designed for them would need to be off the shelves by the year 2040, so that by the year 2050 at the very latest, no ‘surviving’ conventional vehicles could feasibly be left on the roads.
“This will not only help the climate change issue but will also help to solve the growing air-pollution crisis and improve health and quality of life,” says Greenpeace Spain’s transport head Raquel Montón.
“It’s a challenge for the Spanish and wider European automobile industry, but not to adapt would mean condemning this industry to disappear altogether, as well as being a death sentence for the environment.”
According to the charity, current debates in European Parliament and in the individual national governments of member States concerning new CO2 regulations for cars and vans ‘show just to what extent they fail to understand the magnitude of the issue’.
Spain is the EU’s fifth-largest car market, producing and selling 8% of all vehicles, and the sixth-largest in Europe as a whole, making up around half of Germany’s passenger-vehicle industry.
The motor manufacturing and sales industry in Spain makes up around 10% of its GDP.
Greenpeace wants to convince Spain’s new minister for energy transition, Teresa Ribera, to join the charity’s round-table on transport so they can jointly tackle the issues affecting various towns and cities in Spain caused by vehicles.
These include air pollution, which Barcelona and Madrid were summoned by Europe earlier this year to address.
Other towns and cities in Spain, especially in very built-up areas or with limited motorways and main inter-provincial highways running straight through town centres, suffer from serious air-pollution issues.
And according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution is directly responsible for six million deaths around the globe every year.