German automaker Daimler on Friday dismissed a “cease and desist” demand from two environmental groups to commit to ending the sale of combustion engine vehicles by 2030.
Lawyers for Greenpeace and the group Deutsche Umwelthilfe have threatened to sue Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen unless they sign a legal pledge not to put new gas-fueled vehicles onto the market from the end of this decade.
The groups argue that companies are bound by the same rules as governments when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat climate change. The same lawyers successfully sued the German government earlier this year, forcing it to adjust its emissions reduction plans to shift more of the burden onto older generations.
In a letter addressed to Volkswagen, Greenpeace said it believes VW “poses a threat to the absolute rights, such as the property, health, and life of our clients” by being responsible for the release of large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide.
Daimler said in a statement that it saw “no basis” for the groups’ demand.
“If it comes to a lawsuit, we will use all legal means to defend ourselves,” the company said.
Daimler said it is committed to the goals of the 2015 Paris climate accord and aims to make its entire vehicle fleet climate-neutral by 2039, more than a decade before current European Union rules require it.
BMW said it would examine the legal threat from the environmental groups, but said it was likewise already committed to the Paris accord’s goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). The luxury carmaker said it wants to put 10 million fully electric cars on the road over the coming decade. BMW sold more than 2.3 million cars in 2020.
Deutsche Umwelthilfe also sent a cease and desist demand to the oil and natural gas company Wintershall Dea, one of the investors in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline being built from Russia to Germany.