VW sued in German court by Greenpeace for failing to tackle climate change

The environmental activist group said that VW’s climate commitments were “unclear and vague” and called for it to end production of internal combustion engine cars by 2030 and reduce its carbon emissions by 65 per cent by the same time.

Ahead of plans to ban the sale of new ICE vehicles in the UK by 2030, other car manufacturers have made pledges, such as Ford, which will only sell electric vehicles (EVs) on the continent by that date, and General Motors, which is also ramping up EV production with plans to become carbon neutral by 2040.

VW has rejected the demands from Greenpeace after being given eight weeks by the claimants to assess them. The firm is still planning to ramp up its EV production, with the brand having delivered almost three times as many pure-electric vehicles in 2020 as it did in the previous year.

“Volkswagen stands for climate protection and decarbonising the transport sector, but it cannot tackle this challenge alone,” a spokesperson said in a comment to Reuters.

“The task of designing appropriate measures belongs to Parliament. Civil court disputes through lawsuits against singled-out companies are not the place or way to do justice to this task of great responsibility.”

VW has a chequered history when it comes to adhering to environmental regulations. In 2015, the firm was found to be programming its diesel engines to activate pollution controls when being tested in government labs and turning them off when on the road in order to boost performance.

The software mechanism, which was discovered in 2017 by a team of researchers, allowed its vehicles to emit up to 40 times the amount of nitrogen oxide above regulations when not in a testing environment.

German prosecutors charged VW’s chief executive Herbert Diess, chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch and former CEO Martin Winterkorn with market manipulation in connection with the diesel emissions scandal in 2019.

In July, the EU levied $1bn in fines against German car manufacturers Daimler, BMW, VW, Audi and Porsche after it emerged that they had colluded to limit the development and rollout of emission-control systems.

The European Commission said the firms had avoided competing on technology to restrict pollution from petrol and diesel passenger cars.