A European climate activism group called Tyre Extinguishers have been campaigning against the ravages of climate change by deflating the tires on SUVs all across Europe. Last night was their biggest night yet, the Guardian reports, with the group airing out the tires on more than 600 SUVs across nine different European countries.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article used a photo that showed a slashed tire. In hindsight, this was misleading: The protestors simply let the air out of tires in a way that did not cause any damage. We have updated the photo to show a vehicle with a deflated but not damaged tire. Sorry.
The group aims to discourage SUV ownership in urban areas, saying that these vehicles create “unnecessary ‘luxury emissions,’ flaunted by the wealthy, that are a climate disaster, cause air pollution and make our roads more dangerous.” The thinking is that, if you live in a European city center, you have access to more eco-friendly forms of transportation, whether that be walking, public transit, or opting for a smaller vehicle or an electric car.
The Tyre Extinguishers typically jam something small, like a lentil, into the valve stem cap on an SUV’s tires, holding the valve slightly open to slowly deflate the tire without requiring the protestors to remain near the vehicle. The activists also put a leaflet on each car’s windshield to let them know why they’ve woken up to a flat-tired SUV.
Last night, the group claims it hit utility vehicles in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and Canada. The mass protest marked the six-month anniversary of the formation of the Tyre Extinguishers, and preceded the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt by exactly two months.
The group targets tires specifically because they exist in a legal gray area. Metropolitan police in London told the Guardian that they’re not even sure that deflating a vehicle’s tire, without otherwise causing damage, could be considered a crime.
As you can likely imagine, the SUV owners that have been targeted aren’t exactly pleased — but Tyre Extinguishers vow to keep deflating tires until society moves away from its current SUV obsession. That probably isn’t happening any time soon, though.