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CLIMATE CRISIS

German farmer sues Volkswagen over CO2 emissions

A German court on Friday began hearing a case against the Volkswagen group brought by a farmer who claims the pollution caused by the automotive giant is infringing on his rights.

Organic farmer Ulf Allhoff-Cramer is challenging Volkswagen along with Greenpeace over climate damage.
Organic farmer Ulf Allhoff-Cramer is challenging Volkswagen along with Greenpeace over climate damage. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Lino Mirgeler

Ulf Allhoff-Cramer, an organic farmer from the Rhineland town of Detmold, backed by the Greenpeace campaign group, says Volkswagen’s emissions are significantly contributing to climate change and therefore damaging his business.

He claims this is interfering with his fundamental rights to property, health and freedom.

“A corporation with such gigantic CO2 emissions as VW is partly responsible for the damage caused by the climate crisis,” Roda Verheyen, Allholf-Cramer’s lawyer, was cited as saying by Greenpeace ahead of the proceedings.

If the group does not reduce its emissions much faster than currently planned, it will be harming others and therefore behaving “unlawfully”, she said.

However, a spokesman for the court in Detmold on Friday said it had expressed clear doubts about the success of the lawsuit.

The case was adjourned until September to allow time for the farmer to submit additional written evidence and to allow Volkswagen time to comment.

READ ALSO: How climate change is threatening Germany’s forests 

The automotive group has previously rejected his allegations as “unfounded”.

He is trying to claim “individual liability for general consequences of climate change” and that “in our view cannot succeed”, the carmaker said.

Allhoff-Cramer and Greenpeace want to force VW to reduce the proportion of cars it makes with combustion engines to 25 percent by 2029, and to end production of combustion engine vehicles completely by 2030.

They also want VW to reduce its CO2 emissions by 65 percent compared to 2018.

The plaintiffs accuse VW of having known about the dangers of global warming for decades.

READ ALSO: Germany chooses Greenpeace chief as first climate envoy

They say research has shown the board was warned at a meeting in 1983 of the consequences of increasing carbon dioxide emissions and the threat of climate change.

The Volkswagen group – whose 12 brands include Audi, Porsche and Skoda – is pumping 35 billion euros into the shift to electric vehicles and aims to become the world’s largest electric carmaker by 2025.

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WEATHER

‘Clear indication of climate change’: Germany logs warmest year on record

Looking at data from 2,000 measuring systems around Germany, the German Weather Service (DWD) said that 2022 marked the warmest year on record through November.

'Clear indication of climate change': Germany logs warmest year on record

“Never since 1881 has the period from January to November in Germany been so warm as in 2022,” said DWD spokesman Uwe Kirsche in a statement on Wednesday.

The average temperature for the first eleven months of 2022 was 11.3C, according to the weather service in Offenbach. The previous high was set in 2020, at 11.1C for this period. 

The temperature average for autumn alone was 10.8 degrees – an entire 2C degrees higher than it was between 1961 to 1990, which is used by meteorologists around the globe as a point of reference. 

Clear indication of climate change

The period from January to October was already the warmest on record, with an average temperature of 11.8C. For meteorologists, autumn ends with November, whereas in calendar terms, it lasts until December 21st. 

It is “a clear indication of climate change;” that the warmest October months of the last 140 years all fall in this millennium, said DWD.

READ ALSO: ‘A glimpse into our climate future’: Germany logs warmest October on record

Autumn 2022 could have easily been mistaken for summer in some regions of Germany, it said. The mercury reached the highest in Kleve on the Lower Rhine on September 5th, where temperatures soared to a sizzling 32.3C.

weather Germany september

Beach goers in Westerland, Schleswig-Holstein on September 25th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Molter

Rainy regions

The mild weather extended into November, before temperatures took a dramatic dip in many parts of the country. 

In the Oberharz am Brocken, the mercury dropped all the way to -11.6C on November 20th, the nationwide low for this autumn.

READ ALSO: Germany to see first snowfall after mild November

But despite the early warm spells, autumn was also “slightly wetter than average,” according to DWD. An average of around 205 liters of precipitation per squar metre fell across Germany.

That was about twelve percent more than in the reference period from 1961 to 1990. Compared to 1991 to 2020, the increase was about eight percent.

The Black Forest and the Alps received the most rainfall. Utzenfeld in the southern Black Forest had the highest daily precipitation in Germany with 86 litres per square meter on October 14th. In contrast, it remained very dry in the northeast. 

However, there were also a fair few bright, sunny days for people to enjoy. According to DWD, the sun shone for a good 370 hours this autumn – almost 20 percent more than in the period from 1961 to 1990 and 15 percent more than in the period from 1991 to 2020.

The North German Lowlands saw the most sun, with residents there getting a solid 400 hours of sunshine over autumn. 

Temperatures to drop this week

Just in time for the start of the meteorological winter on December 1st, temperatures will drop significantly into the low negatives in many parts of the country.

On the weekend, there is a risk of permafrost in some regions of eastern Germany. The nights will also become increasingly frosty, with snow expected in many regions by the end of the week.

Roads are expected to turn icy, but with no major snowstorms, said DWD.

READ ALSO: Will Germany see more snow this winter?

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