Dinosaur protest in London calls out Toyota

Toyota is a corporate dinosaur fuelling the climate crisis. Our stunt called them out on their dirty lobbying during Japan’s hosting of the G7

All photography by Chris J Ratcliffe

Saturday May 20th, Ecohustler worked with partner organization Polluta to produce a humorous and unexpected stunt at The Japanese Embassy in London.

Three dinosaurs staged a protest in support of Toyota’s anti-climate lobbying and the toxic influence it is having on Japan in global climate negotiations.

Alongside people from these organizations, independent environmental campaigners as well as concerned citizens showed up to unfurl a large banner.

Members of the public were intrigued as to what was going on - lots of smiles, laughs and waves. The video we made is gaining traction online and has so far been viewed 200,000 times on Twitter alone.

Many people in the UK assume that Toyota is a responsible corporation and even a climate leader given its much publicised success two decades ago with its iconic hybrid car - The Prius.

Unfortunately this reputation is misplaced. Toyota is actually one of the world’s most polluting corporations, with self-reported total emissions of 379.9 million tonnes of CO2 in 2021.

Mind-blowingly, that’s more than oil giant BP, and more than most entire countries - for example, more than the entire economy of France, or Nigeria.

Most of this comes from the exhaust pipes of the cars it sells - Toyota is the world’s biggest car company, adding around 9.5 million fossil-fuelled cars to our roads last year alone.

But while it claims to be moving towards “carbon neutrality”, in reality Toyota is moving in the opposite direction - ramping up its car sales, meaning rising annual CO2 emissions, with no end in sight.

Toyota will sell 60 million more petrol / diesel vehicles than is compatible with the Paris Agreement, according to a November 2022 Greenpeace report - the biggest overshoot of any carmaker.

Moreover, because of its huge global reach, Toyota can threaten any government planning tough car CO2 emissions rules that it will shut down factories, slash jobs, and relocate elsewhere.

Toyota has huge influence over how fast we tackle a major part of global emissions (transport is about a 5th of total emissions), and is actively working behind the scenes to weaken carbon regulations on cars, to bolster its own profits.

At the G7 summit in June last year (2022), Toyota successfully lobbied Japan to water down the climate ambition of the agreement by removing a zero-emission vehicle target from the text (replacing it with vague language to include fossil-fuel burning “hybrid” cars), to prolong its polluting combustion-engine business model.

So how did this year’s G7 summit in Hiroshima go? More of the same. Instead of a firm commitment by all its members to phasing out combustion engine cars, the final G7 communique just “highlighted various actions countries are taking, including policies for achieving 100% or the overwhelming penetration of sales for zero-emission vehicles… by 2035 and beyond”.

The document politely failed to mention that Japan is the only G7 country *not* taking this action. (see US proposal, Canada, Germany, Italy, France within the EU plan, and UK plan).

So the Toyota/Japan corporate-industrial nexus had its way, and will continue to try to slow down progress towards reducing pollution from cars.

Japan’s auto industry lobby group JAMA, which Toyota chairs, did have time to organise a photoshoot of all six elderly male CEOs standing in front of a colourful sign saying “Diversity in Carbon Neutrality”.

This is very similar to Big Oil’s PR strategy - portray yourself as an authority on climate by talking about ‘transitioning the energy mix” and all the diverse “low-carbon solutions” while lobbying to protect and expand your main incumbent fossil-fuelled business model that makes climate change worse.

In reality, Toyota is not seriously pursuing a diverse range of clean technologies. 99.6% of the vehicles it sold last year had an exhaust pipe, and burnt oil products that drive climate change.

In order to counter the immense threat of Toyota’s lobbying and the toxic impact is having on our world, a global network of civil society organizations are stepping in and linking up.

In March more than 50 consumer and environmental groups representing millions of supporters from 26 countries signed an open letter to Toyota, demanding it change course.

Want to join in? Get in touch with Public Citizen, Sierra Club, and the Polluta campaign. There will be more actions coming soon. Sign up for the Ecohustler newsletter to stay in the loop.