Farmer sues VW over climate change; German court has doubts | business news
By FRANK JORDANS, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) – A court in Germany on Friday questioned a German farmer’s claim that automaker Volkswagen is partly responsible for the impact global warming is having on his family business.
Plaintiff Ulf Allhoff-Cramer claims that dry soil and increased rainfall due to climate change are harming his fields, livestock and commercial forests.
“Farmers are already being hit harder and faster by climate change than expected,” he told reporters this week, claiming that VW, the world’s second-largest automaker, contributed to the damage.
But during the first hearing, a regional court in the western city of Detmold asked the plaintiff and his lawyers to provide more details to back up their legal arguments, German news agency dpa reported.
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The presiding judge also asked for clarity as to whether the plaintiff has already suffered climate-related damage or is merely anticipating it. The next court hearing was scheduled for September 9th.
The case is backed by environmental group Greenpeace, which has backed similar legal efforts in Germany aimed at blaming corporations and the government for climate change.
Such cases have had mixed success. Some have been sacked, and one made it to Germany’s top court, which last year urged the government to step up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Volkswagen said in a statement that it aims to reduce its emissions “as fast as business will allow” 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.
“On the other hand, civil court disputes through lawsuits against individual companies selected 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.
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