BARCELONA – “Your gas guzzler kills“. Environmental activists have been prominent in Catalonia for some time with this slogan. They are loners who use legumes to deflate the tyres of large SUVs in urban areas.
They are types from all walks of life with only one goal: to make it impossible to own large polluting 4×4 cars in urban areas. In doing so, they oppose climate change, air pollution and irresponsible car ownership.
The activists call themselves ‘Desinflaruedas’ and are part of the international movement ‘Tyre Extinguishers’, founded by some fanatical environmental activists in the UK. Since then, it has spread rapidly across 14 countries, including Spain. However, here they started their actions in Sant Cugat del Vallés in the province of Barcelona.
The climate activists focus their actions on SUVs, in particular from the Land Rover, Discovery, Volvo, Jeep, Nissan and Toyota brands. Hybrid and electric cars are considered OK and are therefore not a target. To let the air out of the tyres, they push a small seed, usually a lentil, into the centre of the valve. With this, they push the pin in the valve slightly inwards and then the air flows out. The members of the group pride themselves on being able to achieve this in just 10 seconds.
After the tyres are flat, the activists put a pamphlet under the windscreen wipers with the text: “Attention, your gas guzzler kills”. They then address the owner of the damaged car directly: “You’ll be angry, but don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s your car. We did this because driving around urban areas in your massive vehicle has huge consequences for others.” These consequences then relate to the “climate emergency”. The environmentalists justify their actions with the argument that the government is not doing enough to reduce CO2 emissions.
Attract new followers
By giving wide publicity to every sabotage action, the activists try to attract new followers. These then receive detailed information on how to sabotage a car. Below is the advice to practice on bicycle tires, especially at night.
Another piece of advice is to split into couples and not perform in large groups. This is to avoid suspicion. There are even video tutorials on YouTube. Unfindable with the normal search engine, but now with 50,000 views. These newcomers also publicise their actions through leaflets and so the movement can spread like an oil slick.
Activists always choose new areas
To prevent too many actions in one area, the organisation keeps a detailed list of the locations where and how many sabotage actions have taken place. This information is posted on the movement’s website and communicated to its tens of thousands of followers via other social media.
Already 9,000 sabotage actions since March
Due to the rapid international spread of the movement, many isolated actions and loners are operating at will and independently. Consequently, the group prides itself on having sabotaged more than 9,000 cars since March this year. They have also carried out major international, more coordinated, operations. An example of this is one night in September when they deflated tires in 600 cars in nine countries at once.
The environmental group presents itself as follows on its website:
We are The Tyre Extinguishers.
We are people from all walks of life with one aim: To make it impossible to own a huge polluting 4×4 in the world’s urban areas. We are defending ourselves against climate change, air pollution and unsafe drivers.
We do this with a simple tactic: Deflating the tyres of these massive, unnecessary vehicles, causing inconvenience for their owners.
Deflating tyres repeatedly and encouraging others to do the same will turn the minor inconvenience of a flat tyre into a giant obstacle for driving massive killer vehicles around our streets.
We’re taking this action because governments and politicians have failed to protect us from these huge vehicles. Everyone hates them, apart from the people who drive them.
We want to live in towns and cities with clean air and safe streets. Politely asking and protesting for these things has failed. It’s time for action. Join us.
We have no leader – anyone can take part, wherever you are, using the simple instructions on this website.
Also read: Spain joins global alliance for 100% emission free cars