Greenpeace starts legal proceedings against Volkswagen for fuelling the climate crisis

Berlin, Germany – Greenpeace Germany announced that it is suing Volkswagen, the world’s second-largest car manufacturer, for failing to decarbonize the company in line with the 1.5°C goal agreed in Paris. Based on the most recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), the independent environmental organization demanded the company end the production of climate-damaging internal combustion vehicles and reduce its carbon footprint by 65% by 2030 at the latest.

By holding Volkswagen accountable for the consequences of its climate-damaging business model, Greenpeace Germany is enforcing the landmark Karlsruhe constitutional court ruling of April 2021, when the judges ruled that future generations have a fundamental right to climate protection. Large companies are equally bound by this requirement.


Martin Kaiser, Executive Director of Greenpeace Germany, said: “While people suffer from floods and droughts triggered by the climate crisis, the car industry, despite its enormous contribution to global warming, seems unaffected. The ruling of the Constitutional Court represents a mandate to quickly and effectively enforce the legal protection of our common livelihoods. We need all hands on deck to protect our common future.”

In its letter to Volkswagen preceding the filing with the court, Greenpeace Germany claims that the company’s current and planned measures contravene the Paris climate goals, fuel the climate crisis and thus violate applicable law. Disregarding the need to rapidly phase out the internal combustion engine to be able to stay below 1.5°C, Volkswagen continues to sell millions of climate-damaging diesel and petrol cars, causing a carbon footprint almost equivalent to Australia’s total annual emissions, contributing to increase extreme weather events, according to a research by Greenpeace Germany.

The plaintiffs, including Fridays for Future activist Clara Mayer, are asserting civil liability claims for the protection of their personal liberties, health and property rights, based on the May 2021 Dutch Court case against Shell, which ruled that large corporations have their own climate responsibility and ordered Shell and all its subsidiaries to do more to protect the climate.


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