German environmental NGO launches legal action against car makers and oil firm over climate impact

German climate NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), alongside Greenpeace, launched legal action on Friday against a string of car manufacturers, as well as oil firm Wintershall Dea over concerns about their environmental impact.

In a statement released on DUH’s website, the NGO decried BMW, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz. Volkswagen and oil firm Wintershall Dea for engaging in “climate-damaging activities,” pledging to take legal action to restrict the CO2 emissions the companies can release.

For decades there have been companies doing their climate-damaging business at the expense of our future. The time for fossil industries is now up.

Through its legal efforts, the climate groups are hoping to secure commitments from the named companies that they will not consume more than the remaining CO2 budget to which they are entitled according to the IPCC and the Paris climate limit, phase out combustion engines worldwide by 2030 and no longer develop any new natural gas or oil fields by 2026 at the latest. Should the companies refuse these pledges, the group has stated it will “hold those responsible to justice in court.”

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The NGOs will be represented by legal duo Remo Klinger and Roda Verheyen, who, earlier this year, convinced a German court to rule that the country’s government must update its climate law by the end of 2022, showing how officials will meet a target of almost zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Responding to the legal threat, Daimler defended its commitment to reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris climate accord, stating that it is on course to achieve climate neutrality. BMW, Volkswagen, and Wintershall have not yet publicly responded to the lawsuit.

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