German farmer is suing Volkswagen over climate change

A German court will on Friday begin hearing a lawsuit brought by a farmer against Volkswagen who claims the automaker shares responsibility for the impact global warming is having on his family business.

“Farmers are already being hit harder and faster by climate change than expected,” said the plaintiff Ulf Allhoff-Cramer before the hearing in the Detmold district court.

The environmental group Greenpeace, which has backed several lawsuits in Germany aimed at holding companies and governments responsible for climate change, backs Mr Allhoff-Cramer’s claim.

Such cases have had mixed success: some were dismissed, while one made it to Germany’s highest court, which last year ordered the government to step up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the most recent case, Mr. Allhoff-Cramer is demanding that VW – the world’s second largest automaker by sales – stop producing internal combustion engine vehicles by 2030.

Ulf Allhoff-Cramer, farmer, sits in a pasture next to one of his cows in Detmold, Germany


German car manufacturers rejected a similar demand from environmental groups last year.

Volkswagen said in a statement that it aims to reduce its emissions “as fast as business allows” but has set a deadline of 2050 to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

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

The company said lawmakers should decide on climate change action.

Cars ready for handover in one of a total of two “car towers” at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg, Germany


“On the other hand, civil court disputes through lawsuits against individual companies singled out for this purpose are neither the place nor the means to do justice to this responsible task,” says VW. “We will defend that position and move to dismiss the lawsuit.”

In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency caught Volkswagen using software that allowed diesel cars to pass emissions tests and then turned off emissions controls during normal driving.

The company apologized and paid $10 billion in fines, recall costs and compensation to car owners. German farmer is suing Volkswagen over climate change

Bobby Allyn

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