Lawsuit to stop BMW selling petrol and diesel cars rejected by German court

A German court has rejected a lawsuit by environmental campaigners seeking to force automaker BMW to stop selling combustion engine vehicles.
A German court has rejected a lawsuit by environmental campaigners seeking to force automaker BMW to stop selling combustion engine vehicles. Copyright AP Photo/Matthias Schrader, file
By Euronews with AP
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The case argued that manufacturers like BMW pose a threat to people's rights if they continue making vehicles that produce greenhouse gas emissions.

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A German court has rejected a lawsuit by environmental campaigners seeking to force automaker BMW to stop selling vehicles with combustion engines by 2030.

The group Environmental Action Germany, also known by its German acronym DUH, argued that manufacturers such as BMW pose a threat to people's right to property, health and life if they continue making vehicles that produce greenhouse gas emissions. 

DUH claims that in 2021 alone, cars sold by BMW were responsible for 62.2 million tonnes of CO2 worldwide - more than countries like Finland, Norway and Portugal emit in a year. 

Why was the climate case rejected by the German court?

The Munich regional court ruled on Tuesday (7 February) that while the plaintiffs' arguments couldn't be dismissed from the outset, "at present there is no threat of illegal encroachment" on their rights.

Judges noted that German and European lawmakers, spurred partly by a 2021 ruling by Germany's top court, have taken numerous measures to achieve the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord

REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan
Munich-based automaker welcomed the ruling, saying efforts to cut emissions should be determined by democratically elected parliaments, not in the courts.REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan

As such there was no absence of laws that would warrant civil action against BMW "at least not at this time," they said.

The Munich-based automaker welcomed the ruling, saying efforts to cut emissions should be determined by democratically elected parliaments, not in the courts.

German environmental campaigners plan to appeal the ruling

DUH said it was satisfied the court had recognised the permissibility of their lawsuit in principle. 

"Today's judgement makes it clear that our lawsuit will be successful if it is foreseeable that the climate protection goals will not be met," said Remo Klinger, the lawyer representing the climate case. 

"If climate protection continues to be delayed by politicians and companies, our lawsuit will be successful in the future."

DUH plans to appeal the ruling with its national director Barbara Metz saying they are ready to "take this fight for the climate all the way to the Federal Supreme Court." 

The NGO also said that it hopes BMW will "finally change its climate-damaging business model". 

A similar lawsuit against Mercedes-Benz was rejected by a German court last year and the appeal is pending. A third lawsuit, against energy company Wintershall Dea, is scheduled to be heard in August.

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