On Tuesday, a German environmental group said it was suing car giants BMW and Daimler to force them to reduce emissions faster, following recent court victories for climate activists. The NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) submitted applications to courts in Stuttgart and Munich on Monday evening, arguing the carmakers needed to set themselves more ambitious climate goals, including ending the sale of fossil-fuel cars by 2030.
While the manufacturers have announced plans to transition away from petrol and diesel vehicles, the plaintiffs argue their strategies are insufficient to meet global targets.
The companies were “torpedoing climate protection, and the Paris agreement with highly polluting vehicles,” DUH vice-president Barbara Metz said in a statement.
In early September, DUH and Greenpeace sent letters to the two carmakers and Volkswagen and gas company Wintershall asking them to commit to more ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions.
According to DUH, BMW and Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler declined to sign up for the climate organizations’ proposals. Volkswagen has until the end of October to respond to Greenpeace.
In their response to DUH, BMW said it had taken account of its “responsibility and is making its contribution” to tackling climate change.
Daimler said in a statement that it had “clearly accepted the targets in the Paris climate agreement and the need for decarbonization in the auto industry.”
The case is the first of its kind in Germany and is based on a landmark verdict by Germany’s constitutional court in April.
In a surprise ruling, the court found that Germany’s plans to curb CO2 emissions were insufficient to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government responded by bringing its carbon neutrality date by five years to 2045 and raised its 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions.
The decision implied a “basic right to climate protection,” DUH lawyer Remo Klinger said.
In a separate action, DUH also supported legal action against five German states earlier this month over their alleged failure to legislate appropriately in response to climate change.