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by Tim Beissmann

Greenpeace is set to launch a campaign against Volkswagen, with the global environment crusader accusing the German giant of exaggerating its green credentials.

According to a UK report by The Independent, Greenpeace will unveil a poster in London today featuring an image of the Volkswagen badge, a Darth Vader mask and the words: ‘Volkswagen. The Dark Side.’

Greenpeace’s 24-page report, called The Dark Side of Volkswagen, claims the Volkswagen Group is deliberately trying to slow the introduction of new vehicle emissions reduction regulations.

Greenpeace argues that Volkswagen is resisting 30 per cent emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2020, claiming that the policy “puts jobs at risk and results in de-industrialisation in Europe”. This is despite the policy having the backing of Britain, other EU countries and large corporations like Google, Sony and Ikea.

Greenpeace believes Volkswagen is not doing enough to improve the efficiency of its cars or encourage people to purchase more environmentally friendly vehicles.

According to statistics in the Greenpeace report, Volkswagen’s average new vehicle CO2 emissions decreased by just 7.8 per cent between 2006 and 2009, while Toyota and BMW achieved reductions of 14 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

“The truth is that the Volkswagen Group has lagged behind its competitors for years,” Greenpeace says.

“It only stepped up progress on CO2 reductions once a legal framework was put in place that forced it do so. It has shown no ability or willingness to voluntarily deliver the innovation or technology changes required.

“Now Volkswagen is openly opposed to the agreed 2020 standard [average CO2 emissions of 95g/km] that would benefit motorists, the economy and the environment.”

Volkswagen Group is yet to respond to the report directly, although it told The Independent:

“It is the goal of the Volkswagen Group to be the industry leader in innovation and in the environmental performance of the company and its products.”

The Volkswagen Group – whose core volume brands in Australia include Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen – offers some of the most environmentally friendly vehicles in the local market.

According to the Federal Government’s Green Vehicle Guide – which ranks every new model and variant based on fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, greenhouse rating and air pollution rating – more than one in five vehicles in the top 160 from an environmental perspective is a Volkswagen Group car.

Its focus on downsizing petrol engines, fitting turbochargers and direct injection systems and implementing diesel engines into its smaller passenger cars are among the key reasons for its strong position in Australia.

What do you think? Is Greenpeace onto something, or is its anti-Volkswagen campaign little more than propaganda? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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