Climate change

Farmer sues VW for climate change; German justice has doubts

BERLIN — A German court on Friday cast doubt on claims by a German farmer that carmaker Volkswagen is partly responsible for the impact of global warming on his family business.

The plaintiff, Ulf Allhoff-Cramer, says drier soils and heavier rains due to climate change are hurting his fields, livestock and commercial forests.

“Farmers are already being hit harder and faster than expected by climate change,” he told reporters this week, alleging that VW, as the world’s second-largest automaker, contributed to the damage.

But in the first hearing, a regional court in the western city of Detmold asked the plaintiff and his lawyers to provide additional details to support their legal arguments, the German Press Agency reported. dpa.

The presiding judge also sought clarification on whether the plaintiff had already suffered weather-related damage or was simply expecting it. He set the next court hearing for September 9.

The case is backed by environmental group Greenpeace, which has backed similar legal efforts in Germany aimed at holding corporations and government accountable for climate change.

Such cases have met with mixed success. Some have been fired, while one went to Germany’s top court, which last year ordered the government to intensify its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In its complaint, Allhoff-Cramer asks VW to end its production of combustion engine vehicles by 2030. German car manufacturers rejected a similar request from environmental groups last year.

Volkswagen said in a statement it aims to reduce emissions “as quickly as the business allows”, but has set a deadline of 2050 to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to net zero.

“Volkswagen is synonymous with climate protection and the rapid decarbonization of the transport sector, but cannot meet this challenge alone,” the company said, adding that the transformation also depends on government regulations, technological development and buyer behavior. .

The company said lawmakers should decide on measures to combat climate change.

“Litigation in civil courts through lawsuits against individual companies appointed for this purpose, on the other hand, is not the place or the way to bring justice to this responsible task,” VW said. “We will defend this position and seek the dismissal of the lawsuit.”

In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency caught Volkswagen using software that allowed diesel cars to pass emissions tests and then disable pollution controls during normal driving. The company apologized and paid tens of billions of dollars in fines, reminder costs and compensation to car owners.


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