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Farmer sues Volkswagen over climate change

Farmer sues Volkswagen over climate change

Germany Climate Volkswagen

BERLIN  — A German court on Friday is set to begin hearing a case brought against Volkswagen by a farmer who claims the automaker is partly responsible for the impact that global warming is having on his family business.

“Farmers are already being hit harder and faster by climate change than expected,” the plaintiff, Ulf Allhoff-Cramer, told reporters this week ahead of the hearing before a regional court in the western town of Detmold.

Germany Climate VolkswagenGermany Climate Volkswagen

Ulf Allhoff Cramer sits next to one his cows in Detmold Germany. Lino Mirgeler/dpa via Associated Press

Allhoff-Cramer is supported by Greenpeace, an environmental group that has supported several German legal cases aimed at holding governments and companies accountable for climate change.

Such cases have met with mixed success: some have been dismissed, while one made it to Germany’s top court, which last year ordered the government to step up its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In the latest case, Allhoff-Cramer is calling for VW — the world’s second-biggest car manufacturer based on sales — to end production of combustion engine vehicles by 2030.

Last year, German automakers refused to comply with similar demands from environmental groups.

Volkswagen said in a statement that it aims to reduce its emissions “as quickly as the business allows” but has set itself a 2050 deadline to cut carbon dioxide emissions to net-zero.

“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.

According to the company, lawmakers should make decisions about climate change measures.

“Disputes in civil courts through lawsuits against individual companies singled out for this purpose, on the other hand, are not the place or the means to do justice to this responsible task,” VW said. “We will defend this position and ask for the lawsuit to be dismissed.”

In 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seized Volkswagen for using software to allow diesel cars to pass emissions testing and then turn off pollution controls during normal driving.

The company apologized, and paid tens to billions in fines, recall costs, and compensation to car owner.

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