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Article

23 Sep 2021

Author:
Reuters

Germany: Activists file lawsuit against carmakers BMW and Daimler over carbon emissions

"Explainer: Why are BMW and Daimler being sued over climate change?", 21 September 2021

German activists have filed a lawsuit against automakers BMW and Daimler for refusing to tighten carbon emissions goals, the first time German citizens have sued private companies for exacerbating climate change.

The lawsuit from the heads of Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), is similar to one being lined up for Volkswagen by the heads of Greenpeace's Germany division in collaboration with Fridays for Future activist Clara Mayer and an unidentified landowner. However, this group has given Volkswagen until Oct. 29 to respond...

...This case is important on two levels.

Firstly, because of the legal precedent it could set - namely, that companies are directly responsible for the effect on people's lives of the emissions their products create.

If the defendants win, citizens could be emboldened to sue other companies – from airlines to retailers to energy firms – for not doing enough to mitigate their impact on the planet.

Secondly, because companies will be forced to prove in court that their emissions targets are as watertight as they say they are – stress-testing their claims that they are taking climate change seriously...

...Daimler said on Monday it did not see any grounds for the case. "We have long provided a clear statement for the path to climate neutrality: it is our aim to be fully electric by the end of the decade - wherever market conditions allow," it said in a statement.

BMW said its climate targets were already at the forefront of the industry, and its goals were in line with the ambition of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees...

...It's now up to Germany's district court to decide whether the case should be taken forward...

...A ruling could be years away. But the longer it takes, the higher the risk to the companies if they lose - as they could be left with very little time left to meet any court demands by 2030.

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