Rival climate groups deflate SUV tyres in Glasgow and Edinburgh

Deflationists and Tyre Extinguishers both say they want to make SUV ownership impossible in urban areas

A new group of climate activists targeting the owners of sports utility vehicles has set itself up as a friendly rival to the Tyre Extinguishers by deflating the tyres of dozens of vehicles in the suburbs of Glasgow.

In a statement, the group, which calls itself the Deflationists, claimed to have let down the tyres of 50 vehicles in the city’s affluent Newlands area and the neighbouring Shawlands.

Members also put fake parking tickets on the windscreens of the vehicles they targeted, stating that the owners’ “luxury lifestyle choice” had been “disarmed”.

For their part, the Tyre Extinguishers announced that they had “disarmed [deflated] a further 10 SUVs in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh, in the shadow of George Watson’s College, one of Edinburgh’s many elite private schools, where parents pay nearly £15,000 a year for their children’s education”.

The Tyre Extinguishers started their campaign in March, targeting SUVs in some of London’s wealthiest postcodes to protest against emissions from the vehicles, which produce 25% more CO2 on average than a medium-sized car.

The two groups, which often place mung beans or lentils in the valves of tyres to deflate them, say that they want to make SUV ownership impossible in urban areas.

Ally Laing, an activist and a member of the Deflationists, said: “Whilst politicians snub meaningful climate action, we’re putting public safety and our climate obligations first by holding the rich to account, whose grotesque lifestyles imperil people and planet.”

Another activist, Carrie Adams, said: “These vehicles, put simply, are intolerable acts of violence and we will continue taking action until these monstrosities are off our streets.”

Despite more than half of Glaswegian households not having a car, Glasgow frequently violates standards of air quality. Hope Street in Glasgow is Scotland’s most polluted street.

SUVs were the second largest contributor to the increase in global carbon emissions from 2010 to 2018. Each year SUVs emit 700 megatonnes of CO2 worldwide, about the entire output of the UK and the Netherlands combined. If all SUV drivers banded together to form their own country, it would rank as the seventh largest emitter in the world.

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The targeting of vehicles in Glasgow comes a day after police faced calls to take action against the Tyre Extinguishers for their campaign in Edinburgh, where they say they have targeted more than 200 SUVs across the Portobello, Leith, Merchiston, Marchmont and New Town areas.

One Edinburgh councillor has claimed that the group’s actions amount to harassment, after activists said they intended to target the same vehicles more than once.

Over the past three months, the movement to deflate the tyres of SUVs has spread beyond the UK, with vehicles targeted in Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the US.

The Tyre Extinguishers claim that about 4,000 SUVs have been “disarmed” around the world since they started their campaign.

The group say they won’t stop their campaign until there is a complete ban on SUVs in urban areas, hefty pollution levies are imposed on SUVs, and well-funded free public transport networks are established.

• This article was amended on 3 June 2022. In paraphrasing a mention of George Watson’s College, an error was introduced, misdescribing the place as a boys’ boarding school. The direct quote has now been used.


Wil Crisp

The GuardianTramp

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