BMW and Daimler, the best automakers, sued over climate change. Why?

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German environmental activists file a lawsuit against the world’s best car makers Bmw and Daimler, for refusing to toughen carbon emissions targets, the first time German citizens sued private companies for exacerbating climate change.

The catastrophic floods, which occurred the very week the European Union announced a 55% reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, are not unknown to the world.

The trial of the leaders of Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), which is a non-governmental organization (NGO), is similar to the one that the leaders of the Germany division of Greenpeace in collaboration with Volkswagen are preparing for Volkswagen Fridays of the future activist Clara Mayer and an unidentified landowner. However, that group gave Volkswagen until October 29 to react.

DUH has also called on energy company Wintershall to curtail its greenhouse gas emissions targets, but no lawsuits have been filed against the company to date.

Here’s what lawsuits mean and why they matter.

Where did this trial come from?

Last year, in May, Germany’s highest court ruled that the country’s climate law was not doing enough to protect the offspring for the foreseeable future. He established carbon emissions budgets for key economic sectors, increased the percentage of emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2030 to 65% from 55%, and said Germany as that country must be carbon neutral by the end of 2045.

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While meeting these requirements indicates certain restrictions on the way of life of current generations, failure to meet them would force future generations to make much more extreme sacrifices to both persevere in a warmer world and prevent the problem from occurring. aggravate. The court pleaded at the time.

In the same month, Dutch environmental organizations won a lawsuit against the oil company Shell for not doing enough to mitigate its impact on the climate, the first private company to be ordered by a court to reduce its emissions.

Against the background of these two judgments, the German activists plead their cause.

Why is the case important?

This case is critical mainly on two levels.

First, because of the legal case, it could establish, in particular, that companies are directly responsible for the effect on people’s lives of emissions generated by their products.

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If litigants win, citizens could be encouraged to sue other businesses, from airlines to retailers to energy companies, for not doing enough to mitigate their impact on the planet.

Second, companies will have to prove in court that their emissions targets are as precise as they claim, by testing their claims that they take climate change seriously.

But why these two companies?

BMW and Daimler and have set several climate-related targets.

Daimler aims to produce purely electric vehicles (EV) by the end of 2030 and offer an electric vehicle option for all models by the end of 2025. Similarly, BMW wants at least half of global sales to be electric vehicles by 2030 and reduce CO2 emissions per vehicle by 40% in the same time frame. Volkswagen has announced that it will stop producing cars that emit fossil fuels by 2035.

All three automakers have said their targets are in line with the International Paris Agreement to Combat Global Warming.

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But defendants argue that corporate targets are not enough to adhere to Germany’s climate management and carbon emissions budgets set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The case argues that by prolonging carbon-emitting activities, companies are directly responsible for limitations on individual rights that will have to endure in the near future if carbon budgets are not respected.

These are by no means the only private companies to which such an argument could apply, and if German activists win, further lawsuits could follow. This trial is the first step that will allow citizens to protect their near future.

What does Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) want?

DUH asks the two automakers to legally commit to stop the production of cars emitting fossil fuels by 2030. In addition, he wants the two companies to ensure that the CO2 emitted by their activities before these deadlines do not. not exceed their fair share.

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What do they indicate by their fair share? It’s a complicated calculation. But in simple terms, the NGO has assessed a personal “carbon budget” for each company, based on a figure established by the IPCC indicating how much carbon we can still emit in the world without warming the Earth further. beyond 1.7 degrees Celsius, and the amount of carbon that the companies emitted in 2019.

According to his estimates, companies’ current climate targets are not enough to keep them within their designated estimate. This implies that even if everyone sticks to their budgets, the activities of these companies will push emissions beyond the limit.

What do BMW and Daimler say?

On Monday, Daimler said he saw no area for the case. “We have long presented a clear statement on the path to climate neutrality: our goal is to be fully electric by the end of the decade – where market conditions permit,” he said in a statement.

BMW has claimed that its climate targets are already at the forefront of the auto industry and that its targets are in line with the goal of containing global warming below 1.5 degrees.

On the other hand, Volkswagen said it would look into the case but “does not view lawsuits against individual companies as an appropriate method to meet societal challenges.”

What awaits BMW and Daimler?

It is now entirely up to the German district court to determine whether the case should be continued. If he thinks so, companies will be asked to present evidence or data to defend against the charges, and a transcribed debate between the two sides will follow.

Frankly, a decision could be years away. But the longer it takes, the greater the risk for businesses if they lose, as they may have very little time to respond to court demands by 2030.


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