Farmer sues VW for climate change; German court has doubts | Economic news


By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — A German court on Friday cast doubt on claims by a German farmer that automaker 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 VW, as the world’s second-largest automaker, had 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.

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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 removed from their posts, while another has gone to Germany’s top court, which last year ordered the government to step up efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

In its complaint, Allhoff-Cramer is asking VW to end its production of combustion engine vehicles by 2030. German automakers 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 2050 deadline for reducing carbon dioxide emissions to net zero.

“Volkswagen stands for climate protection and the rapid decarbonisation 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 the behavior of people. buyers.

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, recall costs and compensation to car owners.

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