Greenpeace's Case Against Volkswagen Is Not Looking Good

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A German court is unlikely to favor the environmental organization.

It appears that Volkswagen will prevail in a case led by a Greenpeace activist demanding the German automaker increase its carbon emissions targets. According to Reuters, the three plaintiffs, led by environmental activist Clara Meyer and two Greenpeace Germany leaders, argued in court that VW's policies are violating their fundamental freedoms in regard to climate change. They want VW to quit building fossil fuel-emitting vehicles entirely by 2030 and to further reduce carbon emissions by at least 65% from 2018 levels by that time.

Meyer and Greenpeace first took VW to court in November 2021 over these demands but now the Braunschweig district court is questioning a previous court's 2020 ruling. It stated that the country was violating the fundamental rights of future generations by not protecting them from climate change.

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2021-2023 Volkswagen ID.4 Frontal Aspect

A Dutch court ruling at around the same time even ordered oil giant Shell to reduce emissions. The Braunschweig court is basically questioning whether the other German court's ruling is even applicable in a case between private entities. "Fundamental rights apply directly between citizens and the state. The peculiarity here is that this is a case of a private individual against a privately acting company... the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed," a court spokesperson said.

Another hearing remains scheduled for later this month even though the eco warriors' chances of victory are not good. There is some precedent for this.

Last September, a Stuttgart court dropped a case brought against Mercedes-Benz by a German environmental NGO because the latter did not provide sufficient proof as to how the carmakers' policies infringed on their rights.

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That court also said it was the responsibility of the country's lawmakers to determine environmental policies and protections, rather than the court. That NGO said it vows to appeal, as does Greenpeace if it loses this month's case. BMW has also been targeted by the same NGO with that case set for a hearing next month.

All of these German automakers are rapidly pursuing all-electric futures, especially the Volkswagen Group, following the Dieselgate scandal that was exposed in 2015.

The VW ID.4 is already on sale in North America and its close cousin, the ID.3 hatchback, preceded it to market in Europe. The ID.7 sedan concept was also just unveiled. BMW and Mercedes recently launched the i7 and EQS EV sedan flagships, respectively.

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2021-2023 Volkswagen ID.4 Dashboard
Source Credits: Reuters

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