- A farmer is suing the Volkswagen group claiming that the pollution caused by him infringes on his rights.
- The auto group has previously rejected the farmer’s accusations as “baseless”.
- The farmer and Greenpeace want to force VW to reduce the proportion of cars it makes with combustion engines to 25 percent by 2029.
A German court on Friday began hearing a case against the Volkswagen group brought by a farmer who claims pollution caused by the auto giant is violating his rights.
The organic farmer from the Rhineland city of Detmold, backed by the Greenpeace campaign group, says that Volkswagen’s emissions contribute significantly to climate change and thus harm his business.
He claims that this is interfering with his fundamental rights to property, health and liberty.
“A corporation with such gigantic CO2 emissions as VW is partly responsible for the damage caused by the climate crisis,” Roda Verheyen, the farmer’s lawyer, was quoted as saying by Greenpeace before the proceedings.
If the group doesn’t reduce its emissions much faster than currently planned, it will be harming others and thus behaving “illegally”, he said.
However, a spokesman for the court in Detmold said on Friday that it had expressed clear doubts about the success of the suit.
The case was adjourned until September to give the farmer time to present additional written evidence and for Volkswagen to have time to comment.
The auto group has previously rejected the farmer’s accusations as “baseless”.
It is trying to claim “individual responsibility for the general consequences of climate change” and that “cannot succeed in our opinion”, the automaker said.
The farmer and Greenpeace want to force VW to reduce the proportion of cars it makes with combustion engines to 25 percent by 2029, and to completely end production of vehicles with combustion engines by 2030.
They also want VW to cut its CO2 emissions by 65 percent compared to 2018.
The plaintiffs accuse VW of having known about the dangers of global warming for decades.
They say research has shown that the board was warned at a meeting in 1983 about the consequences of rising carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of climate change.
The Volkswagen group – whose 12 brands include Audi, Porsche and Skoda – is investing 35 billion euros in switching to electric vehicles and aims to become the world’s biggest electric car maker by 2025.