German farmer sues Volkswagen over CO2 emissions

  • A farmer is suing the Volkswagen group for alleging that the pollution caused by this infringes on his rights.
  • The auto group has previously dismissed the farmer’s allegations as “unfounded”.
  • The farmer and Greenpeace want to force VW to reduce the proportion of cars it makes with combustion engines to 25 percent by 2029.

A German court on Friday began hearing a case against the Volkswagen group brought by a farmer who alleges that the pollution caused by the car giant is violating his rights.

The organic farmer from the Rhenish town of Detmold, supported by the Greenpeace campaign group, says Volkswagen’s emissions contribute significantly to climate change and are therefore harmful to his business.

He claims that this violates his fundamental rights to property, health and liberty.

“A company with such gigantic CO2 emissions as VW is partly responsible for the damage caused by the climate crisis,” said Roda Verheyen, the farmer’s lawyer, before the proceedings by Greenpeace.

If the group doesn’t reduce its emissions much faster than currently planned, it will harm others and therefore behave “unlawfully,” she said.

However, a spokesman for the court in Detmold said on Friday that he had expressed clear doubts about the success of the lawsuit.

The case was adjourned to September to give the farmer time to submit additional written evidence and Volkswagen time to comment.

The auto group has previously dismissed the farmer’s allegations as “unfounded”.

He is trying to claim “individual liability for general impacts of climate change” and that “cannot succeed in our view,” the automaker said.

The farmer and Greenpeace want to force VW to reduce the share of combustion engine cars to 25 percent by 2029 and to completely end the production of combustion engine vehicles by 2030.

They also want VW to reduce its CO2 emissions by 65 percent compared to 2018.

The plaintiffs accuse VW of having known about the dangers of global warming for decades.

They say research has shown that the board of directors was warned at a meeting in 1983 about the consequences of increasing carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of climate change.

The Volkswagen group – whose 12 brands include Audi, Porsche and Skoda – is pumping 35 billion euros into the shift to electric vehicles and aims to become the world’s largest manufacturer of electric cars by 2025.

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