LONDON - Gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, the increasingly popular all-terrain cars, should be forced to sport labels just like cigarette packs announcing their terrible health and environmental impact, a British think tank said.
Just like smokers in the European Union buy tobacco marked with "Smoking Kills" and other dire warnings, New Economics Foundation (NEF) offered its own slogans for super-stickers which they said should be slapped onto the hoods and sides of cars.
The Hummer H3T concept vehicle, seen here in January 2004 in this GM photo. Gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles, the increasingly popular all-terrain cars, should be forced to sport labels just like cigarette packs announcing their terrible health and environmental impact, a British think tank said(AFP/GM-HO/File)
"Global warming kills," "Climate change can seriously damage your health" or even "Driving seriously harms you and others around you" were among the list of warnings proposed by the London-based think tank.
The NEF said SUVs, also called four-by-fours or four-wheel-drives, were "disproportionately responsible for emissions of climate-change fuelling CO2 (carbon dioxide), other air pollutants, and traffic fatalities".
But, it warned in a statement, their sales were increasing and now represented one out of every four new cars sold in the United States and one in seven in Britain.
"SUVs are dangerous, fabulously polluting and part of a wider transport problem that is, according to the World Health Organization, set to be the world's third most common cause of death and disability by 2020," NEFpolicy director Andrew Simms said.
"We need labelling to encourage people not to drive these four-wheel behemoths in the same way we encourage people not to smoke. If we can't we may need to find a very large ashtray for our planet's future."
The group said that as with smoking, regulations to cut down greenhouse gas emissions did not work and that as with smokers, drivers could be shamed into behavior change through "emotive content".
Its campaign, due to be covered in the New Statesman magazine on Friday, comes ahead of an upcoming international conference on climate change in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
SUVs have exploded on the US and international markets, from traditional US makers' Ford Explorer and Jeep Cherokee to Britain's Land Rover, and on to luxury versions put out by European automakers like Volvo, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes.
General Motors' Hummer, a mammoth model based on the military vehicle Humvee used in combat, is one of the largest and least fuel-efficient, which retails in the United States starting above 50,000 dollars (38,000 euros) and gets about 10 miles to the gallon (4.25 kilometers per litre).
© Copyright 2004 AFP