On Friday (11.30 a.m.) the Detmold district court will deal with a farmer’s lawsuit against the car manufacturer VW in climate protection.
The organic farmer from Detmold in North Rhine-Westphalia, who is supported by the environmental protection organization Greenpeace, wants to enforce in court that the car company refrain from “excessive” emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. VW considers the lawsuit to be unfounded. After the oral hearing in the civil case on Friday, the court is unlikely to make a decision.
In the period from 2021 to 2029, VW should be obliged to only equip a maximum of a quarter of the passenger cars and light commercial vehicles sold across the group with combustion engines. From 2030, VW will no longer be allowed to sell internal combustion engines. According to the court, the farmer justified the lawsuit by saying that the car company was affecting him through the climate-related consequences of his business activities in key legal interests such as property, health and the right to receive “greenhouse gas-related freedom”.
According to Greenpeace, plaintiff Ulf Allhoff-Cramer (61) claims that VW, the second largest car manufacturer in the world, is jointly responsible for considerable damage to his farm and the forest. By selling millions of climate-damaging cars, VW is intensifying the climate crisis, causing future losses. The farmer said, “As farmers, we have to acknowledge that the climate crisis is already here and it’s worse than we thought”. An important lever, the “climate action”, is “so that our world remains a place where people can live”. His lawyer, Roda Verheyen, explained: The company must reduce the emission of greenhouse gases faster than previously planned, otherwise it harms others and behaves illegally.
VW holds against it. A comprehensive decarbonization program has been decided on and the aim is to be CO2-neutral on the global balance sheet by 2050, said the head of sustainability, Ralf Pfitzner. He stressed to journalists that VW is carrying part of the decarbonization of the transport sector. In our view, a lawsuit is not the appropriate means, it only distracts from the constructive work on the huge challenge, but committed arguing about the speed of the transformation is right.
“Disputes before civil courts through lawsuits against individual companies that have been singled out for this purpose are not the place and the means to meet the complex challenges of climate protection for society as a whole,” said Wolf Friedrich Spieth, attorney at VW. Civil law and constitutional law did not allow individuals , another private individual on arbitrarily derived emission budgets, who could otherwise become the addressee of a lawsuit, since every individual is a CO2 emitter.
Greenpeace is supporting further lawsuits against VW before the Braunschweig Regional Court. However, there was no oral hearing.