Protesters call for justice as VW in court over Dieselgate lawsuit

Publication date: 27th March 2018

Protestors gather outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning, as lawyers for VW entered the court for a hearing to kickstart the group litigation being brought against VW. © Kristian Buus / Greenpeace

Protestors gathered outside the Royal Courts of Justice this morning, as lawyers for VW entered the court for a hearing to kickstart the group litigation being brought against VW. 

Download images here: http://media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MZIFJXM20QL

Slater and Gordon are representing 45,000 UK car owners affected by the Dieselgate scandal.

It is hoped the hearing, set for 10.30am, will decide a deadline for the public to join the claim against VW.

The protestors, members of Greenpeace London groups, held a banner reading ‘VW clean air cheats’. The banner features the face of a young girl from London affected by air pollution, Sephie, 3, whose family have been campaigning alongside Greenpeace against diesel pollution. Read Sephie’s story.

Morten Thaysen, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: 
“So far VW has managed to evade any real consequences for lying to the public about harmful diesel emissions.

“That has to change. British towns and cities are in the midst of a public health crisis caused by toxic air.

“VW knew its cars were spewing out dangerous pollution that puts people’s health at risk. It must be held to account in court, and it must play its part to help fix the pollution crisis it’s helped to create.

“As well as compensating consumers, VW should quit diesel altogether and commit to an all-electric future. The longer giants like VW cling to diesel, the longer people will be made to suffer chronic health problems associated with diesel pollution.”

Colin Scott, 64, of Oban, Scotland, who joined vwemissionsaction.com said:
“I feel that VW has totally betrayed my trust.

“The low level of emissions claimed by VW for my car were an important selling point when I bought my car. And by installing these cheat devices, VW has not only shown contempt for me and other customers, but also the environment and the air we all have to breathe.

“From my experience, VW does not seem to have appreciated the effect the emissions scandal has had on costumers like me. I’m glad that we’re finally able to hold VW to account for its actions.”

In 2015 VW was caught cheating on emissions tests by using a defeat device designed to reduce emissions in test conditions. More than 1.2 million vehicles sold in the UK were fitted with this device by VW, designed to mislead the public and push cars which pump out dangerous levels of air pollution onto UK roads.

VW was ordered to recall and fix every car in the UK fitted with a defeat device, but it has failed to meet its own deadline to do this. VW also admitted the ‘fix’ it has rolled out across the UK may not actually reduce harmful emissions on the road.

In the US, VW has faced criminal and civil charges. It has paid criminal fines of $2.8 billion, civil fines of $1.5 billion, and $4.7 billion on programs to offset excess emissions and clean vehicle programmes. Volkswagen also agreed to spend up to $10 billion buying back vehicles and compensating owners and dealers.

In Europe, Volkswagen has faced no criminal or civil charges for installing emissions cheating software and it has refused to offer European customers compensation saying the defeat devices haven’t affected market value.

Despite VW’s recent commitment to creating electric versions of all its cars by 2030, VW is still strongly committed to diesel, claiming “diesel has a great future”.

joint inquiry by four committees of MPs earlier this month demanded the UK car industry must contribute to a new clean air fund, following the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

In September Greenpeace launched a campaign targeting VW’s continued promotion of polluting diesel by blocking major import route bringing Volkswagen diesel cars into the UK.

More than 100,000 people have already joined the campaign calling on Volkswagen to ditch diesel.

The impact of air pollution is particularly acute for children. High exposure to polluted air at a young age can cause chronic health problems that last a lifetime, with research showing negative effects for lung function, respiratory issues like asthma and even stunted lung growth. [1]

Levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide air pollution in the UK have broken legal limits every year since 2010 – and diesel vehicles are responsible for 90% of toxic NOx coming from roads. In total, the health impacts of air pollution in the UK are estimated to cost the UK more than £20 billion every year.

Ends

For more information and interviews contact Ellen Booth, 07732072791, ebooth@greenpeace.org.

Notes to editors:

Visit vwemissionsaction.com for more information about the claim and who can join.

[1]: For further research on the links between air pollution and respiratory problems in children, see: