XR calls for boycott of ‘Brussels Motor Show of lies’
The Belgian branch of the global environmental movement, Extinction Rebellion (XR), calls for a boycott of the Brussels Motor Show. They baptized it the ‘Salon of Lies’ in a press release. XR is planning actions on Saturday 18 January to ‘disturb’ the motor show’s last weekend. Details will be published later.
In that press release, XR says to take offense of the organizer’s motto to move toward a ‘Soft Mobility’. They call it “the new lie of the car industry to fool their customers and preserve a business model which will remain a key driver of the climate and ecological crisis despite all the new ‘electric’, ‘hybrid’ or other so-called ‘green’ and ‘zero-emission’ inventions car manufacturers are trying to sell us”.
“Technological and industrial development must be put at the service of the well-being of all people and of the planet instead of commercial profit. ‘Salon of Lies’ is organized as part of a larger campaign #boycottAutosalon, (which wants to forbid publicity for cars, e.n) from a group of civil society organizations. “We are united in asking the government to stop supporting an industry that is poisoning our children and driving ecological breakdown.”
Car, motorbike, and bicycle association, Febiac, organizing the motor show, is to place alternative mobility solutions under the umbrella #WeAreMobility in the center area of the show and has asked consumer organizations to be present to help the customer in mobility choices.
Contrary to former editions, the showcase for alternative mobility, #WeAreMobility, will be present for the whole duration of the show. Without denying that selling cars is still the main objective of a motor show like this, it shows something is starting to move within the automotive sector. But apparently, it is a thorn in the flesh of those who want to wake up the world’s conscience rather overnight.
Image damaged beyond repair
Five years after the ‘Dieselgate scandal’ broke in the US, proving manufacturers like Volkswagen were deliberately cheating with emission figures, it is clear the damage done to the automotive sector’s image is beyond repair.
That consciousness and the conviction that fossil fuels are no longer defendable in the long term, and alternative energy, and other forms of (shared) mobility will be needed, has settled in the board rooms of all car manufacturers. But it still didn’t fully filter through to the lower end of this huge industry and definitely not to the general public.
Belgian’s favorite transport means
In spite of growing alternative transport solutions, the car remains the Belgian’s favorite transport means, as it’s used in more than six trips out of ten. Even worse, nearly 20% of them cover less than five kilometers.
Boycotting the motor show, which attracts more than 400.000 visitors each time, doesn’t look like the most effective way to win the public’s vote. Most of those visitors see a motor show as one way to get informed about new technological evolutions, especially now that everybody – even in the sector itself – is wondering what will be the best solution for a sustainable future.
Just labeling “all the new ‘electric’, ‘hybrid’ or other so-called ‘green’ and ‘zero-emission’ inventions car manufacturers are trying to sell us” as rubbish without underpinning argumentation isn’t likely to shift people’s minds overnight.
Yellow jacket’s movement
It might even backfire. The whole yellow jacket’s movement in France showed last year that people are very sensitive when it comes to their personal mobility and the cost of living associated with it.
Extinction Rebellion was founded in May 2018 in the United Kingdom by a group of a hundred academics signing a call for action. Officially, the movement was established in October with its first public actions. The goal is to force governments by ‘nonviolent civil disobedience’ to do something about climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
One of its most remarkable members is the Belgian princess Esmeralda (63), half-sister of King Albert and Boudewijn, and living in London these days. She was arrested on one of XR’s first ‘sit-ins’ in London in October last year and says she doesn’t mind to be arrested again in further actions.