Thursday, November 17, 2005

International “Day of Intervention” Targeted Ford Dealerships in 90 Cities

Citizen Activists Challenged Ford’s Greenwashing, Pressured Ford for Clean Cars

JumpStart Ford Campaign
November 15, 2005
CONTACT: Andrea Buffa 415-575-5552
Brianna Cayo Cotter 415-398-4404 x357

On Saturday, November 12, citizen activists in the United States, Canada, and England demonstrated outside Ford dealerships in an international "Day of Intervention" aimed at sobering up America's most oil addicted automaker. They successfully countered Ford's recent greenwashing advertising campaign by educating the public in at least 90 cities about the reality that Ford is still ranked last among US automakers for both its fleetwide fuel economy and its tailpipe emissions. The day of action was coordinated by the Jumpstart Ford campaign, an international grassroots movement compelling Ford Motor Company to improve its fleet-wide fuel efficiency to 50 miles per gallon by 2010 and eliminate tailpipe emissions by 2020.

"It was great to see so many actions at Ford dealerships, including 14 protests in Canada alone," said Mike Hudema, Jumpstart Ford campaigner with Global Exchange. "Despite the millions of dollars Ford is spending on TV advertisements and PR stunts to project an image of itself as an environmental company, people throughout the world know the difference between PR and real progress."

In Winnipeg, Canada, concerned citizens dressed up as polar bears outside their Ford dealership to raise awareness about the threat that climate change poses to the bears' habitat. Ninth grade students who recently traveled to Manitoba to see polar bears on a school trip also attended the Winnipeg protest and asked the Ford dealership in Winnipeg to join the Jumpstart Ford campaign. In London, England, activists with the Alliance Against Urban 4X4s took their message to Ford's Premier Automotive Group design offices, where they collected 150 signatures on a letter to Ford, asking the company to meets its voluntary targets for carbon dioxide emissions in Europe rather than pushing SUVs like the Range Rover Sport.

In the US, Ford dealers were "adopted" through meetings and demonstrations in 75 cities from Oakland to Houston to Boulder to Miami to Middlebury. Iraq War veteran Jeff Key attended the Los Angeles protest outside Galpin Ford, where he called on the company to show leadership in ending America's addiction to oil. "The lives of our bravest patriots, my fellow service members, are at stake," he said. In Houston, where residents have recently been impacted by Hurricane Rita and the influx of the storm's victims , concerned citizens focused on the issue of global warming. They used a weather balloon to float a huge banner reading "Hurricanes: Built Ford Tough" in front of a Ford dealership.

"This past Saturday, citizens around the world ranging from soccer moms to Iraq vets joined together to intervene with Ford Motor Company, an all-American brand engaged in very un-American activity," said Nile Malloy, Jumpstart Ford organizer for the Oakland dealer intervention. "Anyone who challenges Ford to do better is being attacked by the company and accused of living in a time-warp. Ford has known about global warming and the asthma epidemic for years, yet it was during this time that the company made huge profits by pushing gas-guzzlers. Ford can't hide behind its latest green washing and hybrid smokescreen. More and more people are finding out about existing technologies like plug-in hybrids that offer much cheaper, easier and safer ways to power our cars and even SUVs. The movement to jumpstart Ford is growing."

In Detroit and Los Angeles, citizen activists projected 30-foot "light banners" onto the side of Ford dealerships and other high-profile buildings. Using the latest in direct action technology, they projected images that looked like billboards with messages including "Ford: Toxic Tailpipe Leader" and "2000+ Killed in a War for Oil; Ford, Building Cars to Die For." The most striking image was of CEO Bill Ford Jr.'s face with the caption, "A lot of people are talking about climate. I'm destroying it."

Every year since 1999, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ranked Ford cars, truck and SUVs as having the worst overall fuel economy of any American automaker. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists ranks Ford as having "the absolute worst heat-trapping gas emissions performance of all the Big Six automakers."

Although Ford promised in September to "increase global hybrid production ten-fold, to approximately 250,000 annually by 2010" by offering a limited lineup of optional gasoline-powered hybrid engines, these numbers represent less than 3.5 percent of the 7 million cars that Ford produces annually and will result in no meaningful improvement its fleetwide fuel efficiency.


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