Protesters storm cargo ship to keep VW diesel vehicles out of Britain

A Greenpeace protester displays a "ditch diesel" sign while floating in the port of Kent, Britain, on Thursday. Photo courtesy Greenpeace

Sept. 22 (UPI) — Members of the environmental group Greenpeace on Thursday climbed aboard a cargo container carrying diesel-powered Volkswagens — in an attempt to keep them out of Britain.

The protesters chained themselves to a tall, portable unloading dock and unfurled banners on the ship and a nearby pier opposing the use of diesel vehicles.

The group posted photos and video of the protest online.

The transport ship Elbe Highway, sailing under a Bahamian flag, docked in the port city of Kent with hundreds of Volkswagens — many of which were diesel-powered. Police responded by trying to remove the protesters.

Volkswagen said the vehicles originated from an assembly plant in the German city of Emden.

“The ship contains a variety of Volkswagen Group vehicles, including petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid models. The diesel vehicles, which are the subject of the protest, meet strict Euro-6 standards,” the company said in a statement.

Volkswagen is the subject of multiple investigations over an emissions scandal involving its fleet of diesel-powered vehicles — which were programmed to dodge environmental standards. The fallout prompted increased public scrutiny of diesel as a fuel source.

While burning diesel fuel emits fewer greenhouse gasses than gasoline, scientists say the exhaust is more harmful to human health.

Greenpeace said on its website that the health concerns, combined with the heavy reliance on diesel in Britain, means Volkswagen should develop a plan to end its production of diesel-fueled vehicles.

“It’s been exactly two years since we found out VW had been cheating and lying to sell toxic diesel cars to families. Yet they still won’t ditch diesel — despite the fact diesel vehicles produces 80 percent of air pollution on U.K. streets. As the biggest carmaker in Europe they must immediately produce a plan to ditch diesel,” the group said on its website.


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