Monday, April 10, 2006
Greenpeace and thandie's letter
"Crash" star trades in 4x4 for hybrid, writes to celebs suggesting they do the same
BAFTA winning actress Thandie Newton has sold her BMW 4x4 and replaced it with a hybrid car. The star of "Crash" has also written to dozens of other celebrities suggesting they think about doing the same. The star of this year's Best Picture at the Oscars found a Greenpeace leaflet stuck to the windscreen of her family's SUV last year. Soon afterwards she traded in the gas guzzler for a fuel efficient Toyota Prius - a hybrid with an engine that switches from petrol to electric power to get better mileage. (Pictures available of Thandie in Prius). For several months Greenpeace volunteers have been clamping 4x4s with cardboard clamps, putting leaflets under window wipers and fixing fake tax discs to windscreens that call for extra road tax for high emitting vehicles. Now Thandie has written to celebrity 4x4 owners on both sides of the Atlantic. In the letter she says: "I'm very excited to write you this letter. I've been fretting over how to phrase it without provoking guilt or insult, when in fact I'm contacting you because of my respect for your success and influence& I sold my family's SUV - a BMW X5 - and replaced it with a Toyota Prius... As you know, extreme weather events are on the increase... This climate change, which is largely brought on by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, seriously threatens generations to come... The hazards I thought I was preventing by driving an SUV are nothing compared to the hazards our children and grandchildren will face if more is not done now... I saw in the press that you own an SUV. If you don't, or you've already sold it, sorry for writing to you... I didn't know everything, and once I did, I had to make a change, and was delighted to do so. I hope you'll think about doing the same." (Full copy of letter in notes) Thandie has sent the letter to celebrities including Jamie Oliver, Chris Martin, Michael Jackson, Mel Gibson, Charlize Theron, Madonna, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and her Mission Impossible II co-star Tom Cruise. She has also sent them a copy of a new report published by Greenpeace. The report, entitled "OFF ROAD CAR - ON ROAD MENACE" was written by Dr Peter Wells of Cardiff University's world renowned automotive research centre. It reveals that 4x4s:
consume around 300% more fuel than an efficient family car
pump out 300% more climate changing gasses and other pollutants
are three times more likely to kill a pedestrian than an ordinary passenger car An in-depth study of the Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery models shows how the basic design of these so-called Sports Utility Vehicles results in "weight-gain spiral" that leads to excessive pollution and makes them much more dangerous for pedestrians and drivers of other vehicles. The report cites US studies which found that death rates are up to nine times higher for car occupants hit by an SUV compared with occupants of the SUV itself. The report finds that the excessive pollution from SUVs is the result of trying to match off road performance with levels of comfort and convenience expected by those that are going to drive the vehicles in urban areas. It shows how SUV manufacturers spend millions on advertising off road features that are functionally useless in normal urban driving but make the vehicles much more dangerous and polluting that an ordinary car. The Toyota Prius does 55 miles to the gallon in the city - nearly three times more than a BMW X5. Over a distance of 12,000 miles (the average a car is driven in a year) the BMW 4x4 will emit as much as six metric tonnes of CO2. Thandie Newton said: "My concerns for the environment had been growing for a long time but I had not connected them with the car I drove. When I saw the sticker it just connected all the dots up." Cat Dorey, the Greenpeace activist who stickered Thandie's car, said: "We didn't know it was Thandie Newton's car when we did it. To us it would have been just another massive 4x4. There are loads of these polluting vehicles round there - it's one of the best areas for our teams to go leafleting and clamping their monster wheels with our cardboard clamps. We've talked to a lot of 4x4 owners through our campaign, and most do understand our view - they have just never thought about how much CO2 their cars are pumping out. The saddest thing I hear is that people buy these huge cars to keep their kids safe, as if climate change is going to be good news for anyone's kids!" "I think it's fantastic that Thandie sold her 4x4 to buy a Prius. Some of these 4x4s pump out two or three times their own body weight in CO2 every year, but hybrids have a much better fuel efficiency. Hopefully some of the other famous people she's written to will do the same. Celebrities have such a big influence on public fashions and they have to realise that when they are pictured in Hello magazine clambering out of these climate wreckers it sends out a really bad message. I hope more celebrities can be as responsible as Thandie." ENDS For more information and pictures call Greenpeace on 0207 865 8255 / 07801 212967 Download the new 4x4 report.
The letter Thandie wrote went as follows:
I'm very excited to write you this letter. I've been fretting over how to phrase it without provoking guilt or insult, when in fact I'm contacting you because of my respect for your success and influence. But this year I made what I believe is a life-changing choice; for myself and my family, and also, in a small way, for the planet, and I wanted to share that with you, and tell you why. Six months ago I sold my family's SUV - a BMW X5 - and replaced it with a Toyota Prius. I loved my X5, loved driving it, and what's more believed it was safer for my kids, until I discovered the truth about its impact on the environment. As you know, extreme weather events are on the increase. The Greenland ice sheet is melting, and sea levels are rising. This climate change, which is largely brought on by greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, seriously threatens generations to come. The hazards I thought I was preventing by driving an SUV are nothing compared to the hazards our children and grandchildren will face if more is not done now. Vehicles designed for off-road terrain (and let's face it, how many times has your SUV been off the road?) can consume three times the amount of fuel, emit three times the amount of pollution than an ordinary passenger car. And incidentally, are three times more likely to kill a pedestrian. If you take a look at the report I've enclosed, you'll see the impact they are having. That's why I dumped our SUV and bought a hybrid. The Prius has a motor that switches from petrol to electric to get great fuel efficiency. Initially I thought I'd be compromising on space, comfort and speed, but you know what? I love my Prius. It's a cool car. And of course there are plenty of other hybrid models available in varying sizes and more to come so there is no need to compromise. I saw in the press that you own an SUV. If you don't, or you've already sold it, sorry for writing to you. You may know all these facts anyway, in which case thanks for taking the time to read this. But I didn't know everything, and once I did, I had to make a change, and was delighted to do so. I hope you'll think about doing the same. With respect and thanks, Thandie
She wrote to: Jamie Oliver, Chris Martin, Kevin Costner, Sly Stallone, Ben Affleck, Adam Sandler, Michael Jackson, Bill Murray, Robin Williams, Tom Cruise, Meg Ryan, Don Johnson, Mel Gibson, Jack Nicholson, Barry Manilow, Anna Kournikova, Charlize Theron, Guy Richie and Madonna, Sean Connery, Ozzy Osbourne, Justin Timberlake, David Beckham, Jermaine Defoe, Jamie Carragher, Sol Campbell, John Terry, Michael Owen, Kieron Dyer and Wayne Rooney.