German automakers BMW and Daimler are facing a new kind of lawsuit. Instead of being targeted by regulators or competitors, the two companies are being sued by a German NGO for not tightening their carbon emissions and refusing to eliminate fossil-fuel burning models from their lineups by 2030. The report comes from German newspaper Handelsblatt, and the German NGO, Deutsche Umwelthilfe, confirmed that it filed lawsuits against the two firms on Monday.
Deutsche Umwelthilfe, whose name translates to Environmental Action Germany, dates back to 1975, and is considered a non-profit environmental and consumer protection entity with membership in the European Environmental Bureau. The group initially gave BMW and Daimler until September 20 to agree (or perhaps acquiesce) to their demands, which included limiting production of internal combustion engines in vehicles before 2030.
Neither BMW or Daimler has set a date for the elimination of internal combustion engines from their lineups, although competitors like Audi and Cadillac have vowed to do so by 2026 and 2030, respectively. According to Reuters, neither of the companies accepted the NGO’s demands, and BMW has repeatedly stated that it is committed to internal combustion technology for the foreseeable future, as recently as this year and this week.
The lawsuit is unique because it has the potential to set legal precedent in which companies are responsible to people for the effects of their product’s emissions on their lives, and because the firms will have no choice but to prove that their emissions goals and targets can stand up to scrutiny and that they are not purely symbolic.
BMW and Daimler are not the only organizations facing such legal challenges. The German arm of Greenpeace has signaled that it intends to sue Volkswagen, which has been given until the end of October to respond and initiate changes. Wintershall, Germany’s largest crude oil producer, is also under pressure from Deutsche Umwelthilfe, but has not yet been sued.
BMW has been called the most sustainable automaker, and is among the most sustainable companies in any industry, according to Dow Jones. Both BMW and Daimler have set numerous carbon emissions reductions goals, and Daimler has been reported as not seeing any grounds for the case, while BMW claims its climate goals are “already at the forefront of the industry,” as per Reuters.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]