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Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) v. Mercedes-Benz AG

Jurisdiction: Regional Court of Stuttgart


Principle law(s): Federal Climate Protection Act and to change further regulations ("Bundesklimaschutzgesetz” or “KSG")


Side A: Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) (Ngo)


Side B: Mercedes-Benz AG (Corporation)


Core objectives: Whether Mercedes-Benz is infringing on the right to climate protection by not committing to achieving carbon neutrality in the production and intended use of internal combustion engine cars.


Summary
On September 20, 2021, environmental organization Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH; Environmental Action Germany) filed an action against Mercedes-Benz in the Regional Court of Stuttgart for not yet having clearly and irreversibly committed to phase out the sale of passenger cars with internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2030. DUH argues that by failing to do so, the automaker is violating the fundamental right to climate protection and impinging upon the rights and freedoms of future generations, as phase out would be necessary for the company to adhere to its allocated carbon budget. The claim is grounded in the Paris Agreement and German Tort Law. The plaintiff relies on the earlier decision by the Federal Constitutional Court (BVerfG) on the German Climate Protection Act, where the Court accepted that Germany has a limited total CO2 emissions budget remaining at its disposal (Neubauer v. Germany). The action filed against Mercedes-Benz is one of the first civil proceedings based on this decision.

DUH asks the court to hold that, (i) unless Mercedes-Benz can prove GHG neutrality for Scope 3 CO2 emissions resulting from the intended use of their ICE passenger cars, after October 31, 2030, Mercedes-Benz is obliged to refrain from placing ICE passenger cars on the market; and (ii) unless Mercedes-Benz can prove GHG neutrality for Scope 3 CO2 emissions globally exceeding 511 million tons resulting from the intended use of ICE passenger cars (based on an average mileage of 200,000 km), between January 1, 2022 and October 31, 2030 Mercedes-Benz is obliged to refrain from placing ICE passenger cars on the global market. Alternatively, DUH asks the court to order Mercedes-Benz to stop placing new ICE passenger cars on the German market after October 31, 2030, unless Mercedes-Benz can prove GHG neutrality for the intended use of said cars. The requested ban on producing new ICE cars would take effect earlier than the 2035 effective ban proposed by the EU in July 2021.

Case documents

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