German farmer, backed by Greenpeace, sues VW over climate change risks
A German court on Friday started hearing a case against Volkswagen brought by a farmer who claims the automotive company is responsible for the impact that global warming is having on his business.
On Friday, a German court started hearing a case against the Volkswagen group brought by a farmer who alleged the pollution caused by the automotive giant is violating his rights.
The organic farmer comes from the Rhineland town of Detmold and is supported by the Greenpeace campaign group. According to his statements, Volkswagen's emissions are greatly leading to climate change and thus hurting his business.
He added that this is interfering with his fundamental rights to health, property, and freedom.
Ahead of the proceedings, Greenpeace cited the farmer's lawyer, Roda Verheyen, as saying, "A corporation with such gigantic CO2 emissions as VW is partly responsible for the damage caused by the climate crisis."
If the group does not decline its emissions much faster than what is already planned, it will be harming others and thus behaving "unlawfully", she said.
However, a spokesperson for the court in Detmold said there were clear doubts about the lawsuit's success.
The case has been suspended until September to give time for the farmer to provide additional written evidence and for Volkswagen time to comment.
Volkswagen has previously rejected the farmer's claims, considering them "unfounded".
The farmer is trying to claim "individual liability for general consequences of climate change" and that "in our view cannot succeed", the carmaker said.
Greenpeace and the farmer want to force the automotive company to decrease the proportion of cars it makes with combustion engines to 25% by 2029 and to end the production of combustion engine vehicles completely by 2030. They also want it to reduce its CO2 emissions by 65% compared to 2018.
The plaintiffs accuse Volkswagen of having known for decades about the dangers of global warming, saying that research has shown that the board was warned in 1983, at a meeting, of the threat of climate change and the consequences of increasing carbon dioxide emissions.
The Volkswagen Group, whose brands include Porsche, Audi, and Skoda, is pumping 35 billion euros to shift to electric cars and looks for becoming the world's largest electric carmaker by 2025.