Protests by lorry drivers in London and Wales today show the strength of feeling surrounding fuel prices and, as oil hit US$135 a barrel last week, they're unlikely to fall anytime soon. Hauliers want the government to abandon proposed 2p tax increase and so ease the pain, but that would only be a short-term fix for a long-term problem - what's really needed is affirmative action on setting minimum fuel efficiency standards for road transport.
Which is why, if you happened to be in Brussels yesterday morning, you would have seen a bizarre site - six cavemen and women travelling the streets in Flintstones-esque car. (Don't believe me? Watch the video.) They were exposing the stone age thinking (geddit?) of the car industry who, lead by German car manufacturers, have been stifling attempts to improve car efficiency and reduce CO2 exhaust emissions for 17 years. First stop was the headquarters of the car manufacturer's lobby group, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), to deliver copies of a new report about the impact their industry is having on climate change.
Then it was off to the European Parliament, or at least it would have been had the stonemobile not been stopped by the police. Quite a lot of police as it turned out, and the six cavepersons were all arrested and the car confiscated. They were all released later without charge and a ticking off for not having the right protest permits, but had they made it to parliament the prehistoric lobbyists would have reminded MEPs that an opportunity to set efficiency standards is rapidly approaching.
Proposals are being discussed next week and a vote on legislation is coming up in the autumn - if MEPs stand up to the industry, manufacturers will be forced to improve efficiency and reduce emissions across the board. It also means the cavemen will be able to retire from politics and return to what they do best - bashing rocks together.