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It’s not green to fly the fans' red, gold and black

Flags were hung in abundance from cars and lorries and was seen as the acceptable face of national pride. But a few days into the Euro 2008 football championships fans are being advised not to fly their flags — because they could damage the environment.
By HT Correspondent | Agencies, Berlin
UPDATED ON JUN 11, 2008 12:26 AM IST

For years they agonised over whether it was politically correct for them to fly their national flag at all. Then during the World Cup two summers ago Germans rediscovered their patriotic spirit and red, gold and black flags were hung in abundance from cars and lorries for the first time. It was seen as the acceptable face of national pride.

But a few days into the Euro 2008 football championships fans are being advised not to fly their flags — because they could damage the environment.

Engineers have declared that the flags, which are usually attached to window frames, cause wind resistance, which alters a car’s aerodynamics and causes it to burn more fuel.

Austria’s automobile club, the OAMTC, says attaching two flags to a car leads to an increased petrol consumption of “up to half a litre a kilometer on motorways and rural stretches”.

The findings have provoked anger in Germany, a nation of car lovers and home to a powerful car lobby, and prompted conspiracy theories to be posted on websites accusing the Austrians of trying to spoil the party.

“As Austria has no chance of victory, it would appear they’re trying to make this into a problem for Germany,” said an online motorist portal, Auto Presse. “The eco party poopers have managed to declare even football a climate-killer ... there are no sacred cows any more when it comes to the climate debate.” Scientists from Group of Eight countries and the five biggest emerging nations urged next month’s G8 summit to ratchet up action against global warming, warning that climate change threatened food and water supplies.

The 13 academies called for leaders to commit to a goal — sketched in the 2007 Heiligendamm summit as something they would “seriously consider” — that would halve global emissions of carbon gases by 2050.

They also demanded urgent action to improve energy efficiency and expand renewable energy and for a timetable, to be drawn up by 2009, for building “carbon capture” plants to snare carbon dioxide from power stations and other big emitters. “Progress in reducing global greenhouse gas emission has been slow,” they said. “Climate change is a pressing issue for today.”

“The most sensitive regions are likely to include the Arctic, Africa, small islands and the densely-populated Asian mega-deltas,” the statement added.

In a press statement, Martin Rees, president of Britain’s Royal Society, said: “Food and water shortages are now a dangerous reality particularly in many developing countries.

“These threats must be assessed and solutions identified if we are to avoid costly mistakes from investing in technologies and infrastructure that do not take climate change into account.”

The statement was signed by the heads of the national academies of science of the G8 countries and of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. The summit runs from July 7-9 in Toyako, on the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

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