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Germany: Climate groups to sue car manufacturers BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen over poor environmental record; incl. cos. comments

"Climate groups to sue German carmakers", 3 September 2021

Environmental organizations Greenpeace and Environmental Action Germany (DUH) said Friday that they will sue German carmakers BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen, as well as oil and gas company Wintershall Dea, over the negative impact the companies have had on the climate.

Two lawyers — Remo Klinger and Roda Verheyen — who helped environmental activists force the German government to commit to more detailed plans of how it will reduce carbon emissions to near zero by 2050 will also represent the plaintiffs in this case, DUH said.

Following the success of the case against the government, the NGOs are hoping to pursue the precedent set by Germany's Federal Constitution Court (BverfG) and uphold the rights of future generations...

...The plaintiffs' demands include ending the sale of climate-damaging combustion engines by German automakers by 2030 — five years earlier than an EU ruling imposed — and stopping Wintershall Dea from developing new oil and gas fields by 2026 at the latest.

They say these deadlines are necessary to stay within the limits of the 2015 Paris agreement. The legal action will go ahead if the companies fail to respond to the demands in the next few weeks, the NGOs said.

DUH said the "current and planned measures by the four companies are inconsistent with the Paris climate goals and are therefore unlawful."...

...All three of the German car manufacturers have previously announced plans to transition to producing more eco-friendly electric cars, but environmentalists have said these plans are vague and non-binding.

"The companies' electrification plans are not ambitious enough and too slow. They won't be enough to avert the climate crisis," said Greenpeace's Martin Kaiser.

Daimler, the maker of the Mercedes-Benz brand, said it saw "no basis" for the legal action against them and that it would defend itself "through all legal means."

BMW said in response to the announcement that it was already committed to the Paris climate agreement. Volkswagen, which owns several car brands including Audi, Porsche and Skoda, did not comment...