Saab no longer Grrrreen in New Zealand

The Green Party in New Zealand have successfully stopped Saab from advertising their cars as being “green”. The Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that Saab can’t claim that their cars are carbon neutral.

Saab ran an advertising campaign in New Zealand (and here in Australia) called Grrrrreen and the Green Party here in Australia have voiced similar concerns in the past. This is what they do with their time.

Under the Grrrrreen campaign, Saab are buying a year-long carbon offset for each car sold. This is a lot more than what other manufacturers do, but if you stick your neck out and do something different – even if it’s something good – then there’s a fair chance you’ll get your head lopped off. The NZ Greens say that Saab were being misleading because the cars continue to pollute after that first year is over.

The Green Party in New Zealand have quite possibly stopped any manufacturer from offering a similar program, and how that helps anyone is known only to them. I’m sure the Greens here in Oz will be inspired to take this further now, too.

I look forward to their anti-Prius campaigns.


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  1. When Saab first Announce this promotion I thought it was a good idea and decided to my my 99s Grrrrrreen. So I jumped onto Green Fleet and spent my hard earned on trees. However, there is one thing that puzzles me about Green Fleet. From

    “the average car produces in one year (4.36 tonnes of CO2). For $40 tax-deductible, Green Fleet will plant 17 native trees on your behalf to neutralise your car’s greenhouse emissions for one year.”

    So you part with $40 and Green Fleet spends it on planting 17 trees which cover you for one yeah. Why don’t the trees continue neutralising your emissions after the first yeah, if anything the trees should of grown and thus neutralise more emissions.

  2. This kind of shit is why I’m ashamed to call myself a liberal. I literally have trouble saying it, because I’m worried someone might think I’m one of the idiots who might think stopping a carbon offset program because it isn’t green “enough” is a good idea. Douchenozzles. I mean, Jesus, what do they expect all the car companies to do, keep tabs on VINs and keep the offsets going until the cars are junked? That’s insane. What a bunch of asshats.

  3. Brendan, I was wondering the same thing myself as I wrote it. The trees get bigger, more leaves, more absorption.

    Apparently not. It most likely isn’t that simple, but it seems so.

    An old saying, Jeff – if you’re not a lefty when you’re young then you have no heart. If you’re not a righty when you’re older then you have no brain.

    Just a saying, mind you.

  4. The problem is that they count one year CO2 production to be countered by lifetime CO2 absorption of mentioned 17 trees. The amount of CO2 absorbed by one tree in one year varies depending on the growth stage, but in lifetime average is just few kilos. So even multiplied by 17 it get nowhere close a yearly CO2 footprint of one car. So to counter car emission each year on should talk not about trees but acres of trees.
    Carbon offset should not be the primary reason to reforestation, it should be the byproduct. Carbon offset is just business – to have green PR, to get tax deductions, to move money to tree-planting companies…. Such company has no liability, they plant some trees, compute some average lifetime * average CO2 absorption (hopefully throught tree lifetime) * average no of trees surviving (artificial forests have different % than natural) + hopefully they also add that the carbon is just stored and will be released upon decay/processing of that tree …
    Its just business, just business….

  5. papluh, thanks. That makes a whole lot of sense.

    So say I started driving at 20 and finish driving at 80, that’s 60 years of CO2 emissions. So I’d need 1020 trees (17 trees x 60 years).

  6. According to this site – – VW is following Saab’s lead (and there’s a painful list of comments below the article). The opening line states “Volkswagen of America has partnered with to offset one year of carbon emission from each new Volkswagen vehicle sold in the US from 1 September 2007 through 2 January 2008”. Will VW also have it’s arse handed back to it? At any rate, the zealots who’ve interfered with this campaign are fools to themselves. As far as I can tell, trees do continue to offset CO2 emissions AFTER year one, unless they are cut down! Such programs are intended as a stop gap measure to offset emissions until cleaner cars are produced on a widespread basis. It’s not an excuse to drive whatever you want, as some buffoons have suggested. Discouraging this program will only hurt matters in the short term, but I wouldn’t expect the “green party” to have the brains to see that!

  7. MarkS: I think they are hitting on the same problem I see there too. Companies are trying to buy out by saying we will plant trees and neutralize one years worth of CO2 exhaust gases. They get the benefits (PR, taxes, etc..) now, but the few tons of your car’s yearly CO2 production will absorbed over many many years … thats if the trees will grow – nobody gives any guarantee for that .
    You have to accept that the tree just stores the carbon from CO2 for the time it lives. Therefore the weight of ‘absorbed’ CO2 relates to the mass of the tree ( leaves, fruits, etc. that fall are regrown and omitted, they decay/are processed and mostly release carbon again). Therefore a tree keeps all (simplified!) the carbon it has accumulated from CO2 over its lifetime in its mass. And the mass is not only carbon, but for for simplicity reasons lets say CO2 weight = wood weight. So how much carbon have your 17 trees accumulated in its first year ? How much 10 years later ? Will the have 1year amount of CO2 carbon inside after 30 years ? Maybe yes, they will finally have accumulated the amount you have driven for 30 years ago … and how many trees will really be alive then ? And what happens to the accumulated carbon when the tree dies? So you see you cannot buy yourself out with onetime planting of 17/xx trees, maybe an acre of cared for forest will do… So you see the problem is not the trees but the ‘PR lies’ or ‘6pt font lies’ call them what you want. They try to give idea to common people that they have bought themselfs out (while protected by small print and lawyer they did not say exactly so)…

  8. Now I looked on the VW link and I see a difference. They say who, where and what they want to do as an offset – exactly the place the want to RE-forest and it was land taken from forest by farmers (at least they say so). The only thing left to explain for the greens is how, you have to plant specific plant for that area. In our country some years ago a big storm torn down acres and acres of forest, but … this forest was artificially planted 30y ago by communist for purpose of nice looking recreational area. The trees that were original to that area stood well….

  9. “I look forward to their anti-Prius campaigns.”

    Last time I checked, Toyota builds light, fuel efficient cars. Trying to sell Saabs as green is as stupid as trying to sell Caddys to Europeans. Oh wait!

  10. No one can guarantee that your car will make it past 1 year either. Look how long Swade’s Viggen lasted! (Sorry, maybe I should have picked a different example. We love you Swade). Anything one does to help WILL HELP. When those groups are critiquing everyone else’s attempts just because they did not buy a Toyota Pious (opps, meant Prius), it does no one any good.

  11. I have to say that Saab has seriously lost their way with the whole biopower hype. Millions of E85 cars have been plying the U.S. roads for decades in ‘corn country’ mid western states. They do not make sense on a large scale unless we start encroaching on third world food supplies.

    A car company like Saab, with a limited budget, should be focusing on getting a good product out, not chasing windmills like they are these days. I bought my current Saab because it looked elegant, was safe, and had really comfortable seats. I was willing to look the other way when I was faced with serious reliability issues (think electrical for the ’99 model) or when the car only gave me 15 miles to the gallon on Boston streets. Frankly, for the small number of miles I drive in a month, I couldn’t buy an extra coffee with the change I would save with a hi tech Prius.

    If Saab continue to focus on hype instead of making a better car for their niche, that Audi A4 will look very inviting when I think of trading in a couple of years down.

  12. In Brazil they are stripping the forest as fast as they can go, and using it for fuel, to go into the cars to offset the CO2. This is same forest that would suck up the CO2 put out by the cars, go figure.

  13. ehall1: If done correctly thats fully OK. Correctly means that the areas to be cleansed are choosen in terms of enviroment impacts and after deforestation are again seeded with something that absorps CO2. It should be done in a scale that allows renewing of the forest until next ‘harvest’. Why ? Current carbon in CO2 from exhalates comes from fossil fuels. This means that something tahat was underground comes up and ends up in the air. So CO2 from a tree ethanol fuel ends up absorbed in another growing tree and lets some percentage of fossil fuel stay underground longer. The problem with E85/100 is that there is either not enough trees/plants or not enough time to regrow them to replace all or even majority fossil fuels cunsumption. But even if it ends up in just 10% of oil staying underground until a better solution is found, its worth a try…

  14. The moral of the story is to never try and appease environmentalists – because it can’t be done. No matter how much you do, it is never enough. At best you will get a grudging “It’s a start, a baby step”, at worst you will be accused of “greenwashing”. Much more satisfying to mock them instead.

  15. What concerns me most is what Brendan said about Greenfleet, $40 for one years offset. For such a big advertising campaign Saab Oz are spending pennies on the offset. This is a sham of massive proportions, sucking people into thinking that it’s a big environmental AND financial commitment that THEY are making when YOU give them $40k to $90k. Saab could have least done a meaningful spend of and offered 5, 10 or more years of offsets.

    They deserve to be burnt and have only got themselves to blame!

  16. Swade – Well, these people obviously have no brain. I’m allowed to be a lefty, as I’m still young.

    Also, honestly, I’m more of a centrist. I’m more left on social issues (except environmentalism, generally), but I’m more right on economic issues.

    That saying implies that you stop caring about social issues when you’re older because you’re too busy worrying about your money. It makes sense, I suppose.

  17. On the Toyota thing – they sell around 2000 or so Priuii here in Oz per year. The number of Hi-Lux utes, Land Cruisers and Klugers is well into the tens of thousands.

    Bu ask anyone who the ‘green’ car company is and they’ll answer Toyota.

  18. “ask anyone who the ‘green’ car company is and they’ll answer Toyota.”

    Unfortunate that, but Saabs are now all sharing floorspace with Hummer.

    To be honest, the greenies have a point. Knowing what I know now, a $40 tree subscription per car does not a Green company make. This is a very cynical move on Saab Oz’s behalf. I do think though that the greenies would have been better off twisting Saab’s arm and forcing them to commit more fully to the offsets than to burn them.

  19. This kind of ridiculousness is why I should remember not to call myself “green” in fear of associating myself with extremist kooks like this.

    As for the trees, I think that the 17 trees will offset a year’s worth of carbon over their lifetime, not each year. I could be wrong though. If you want to offset your Saab for a second year you need to have 17 more trees planted. The 34 trees will absorb two years’ worth of carbon emitted from your car over their lifetime.

    Anyone else understand it differently?

    I use TerraPass to offset the carbon from my cars. Rather than plant trees they buy carbon offsets on the market. Usually the investment goes into wind power farms.

    Robbin Capper: to quote Neil of The Young Ones, “No more lentils!”

    But seriously, I think when we justifiably disagree with these “greenies” we need to realize that we’re only referring to the extremists. There are a lot of level-headed environmentally-minded people out there who aren’t extreme.

    dmr: you’re wrong about Toyota. In addition to the Prius they sell a lot of full-size Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks.

  20. Funny that my Saab dealer just emailed me an invitation to their Hummer launch. Put it in my Saab mail folder for later viewing and laughs and am afraid I’ve sullied it forever.

  21. 1985 Gripen: Have we forgotten about the 97-X in the closet to rival the Tundra?

    Look at EPA data at the fleet level. All American and European automakers are at the very bottom of the pack. In fact the absolute worst offenders list is not topped by the Hummer (although it is close), it is the Volkswagen Touareg and the Cadillac CTS.

    I’m not saying it is good or bad. I’m just saying that I don’t think of myself as driving a green car, whatever that means. I live and breathe out CO2 and so does my beloved ’99 Saab…we are both happier for it 🙂

  22. Soon Toyota’s big vehicles won’t present such a problem for the Prius. It is expected that it will be split off as a separate brand as the model name has more cred than the Toyota badge.

    Also despite Saab not offering the best outright economy, many vehicles are amongst best in class or for their size. An example is the 9-3 2.0t Sportcombi which Australia’s Green Vehicle Guide classifies as most green ‘Large Car’. If this seems like a joke remember how the 9000 used to be classified as a ‘Large Car’ by the EPA in the U.S. based on interior space.

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