The Tyre Extinguishers have teams in the UK, Sweden, France, New Zealand, Germany, Scotland, and the United States. "Our aim is to make it impossible to own a huge polluting 4×4 in the world's urban areas," they state on their website.
SUVs emit more greenhouse gasses than "all shipping, aviation, heavy industry and even trucks," according to The Guardian, which followed the New York Tyre Extinguisher team around on a recent mission. They deflated tires on 55 SUVs that night.
The Tyre Extinguishers carry around lentil seeds, which are the perfect size to fit into a tire valve stem. When you drop a lentil in a valve stem cap and screw the cap back on, the air will slowly leak out of the tire. They made a video that shows how they do it.
After they deflate a tire, they put a notice on the car windshield that says:
ATTENTION — your gas guzzler kills.
We have deflated one or more of your tires.
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 in has huge consequences for others.
Car companies try to convince us we need massive cars. But SUVs and 4X4S are a disaster for our climate. SUVs are the second-largest cause of the global rise in carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade more than the entire aviation industry.
And it's not just gas guzzlers that risk getting their tires flattened. From the Tyre Extinguishers website:
Hybrids and electric cars are fair game. We cannot electrify our way out of the climate crisis – there are not enough rare earth metals to replace everyone's car and the mining of these metals causes suffering. Plus, the danger to other road users still stands, as does the air pollution (PM 2.5 pollution is still produced from tyres and brake pads).
As you might expect, SUV owners who have had their tires deflated by the Tyre Extinguishers are upset. From The Guardian:
"We need a larger vehicle because I have two sons that are special needs," explained Quanda Ellis-Walker, who had her tire deflated in California. "It was terrifying to know that someone would come and do this to you."