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BMW emissions challenge unfounded, court rules, NGO to appeal

FILE PHOTO: Carmaker BMW announces expansion at Mexican plant

By Victoria Waldersee

BERLIN (Reuters) -A lawsuit against BMW by German climate NGO Deutsche Umwelthilfe demanding the carmaker tighten its carbon emission reduction targets was unfounded, Munich's district court said on Tuesday, but the NGO said it planned to appeal.

The heads of Deutsche Umwelthilfe called in their lawsuit on BMW to end production of combustion engine cars by 2030 and limit its emissions before then to remain within a "carbon budget" they calculated for the company, a ratio of the global carbon budget put together by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Failing to do so would infringe on their right to be protected from the consequences of climate change enshrined in Germany's climate protection law passed in 2021, they argued.

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According to the court, DUH's argument could be valid in theory, but there was not yet sufficient evidence that their individual rights were threatened by the carmaker.

BMW had already set goals to align with the Paris Climate Agreement and existing environmental regulations, and it was not yet evident that those goals were not sufficient, the court added.

"We think it is already clear that the regulations set by the state are not enough," Juergen Resch, head of DUH, told Reuters. "Courts say it's not yet legally evident - but if it becomes clear in a few years that carbon reduction targets won't be met, we'll be back at the negotiation table."

BMW welcomed the ruling, saying in a statement that public debate on how to achieve climate goals should take place via parliament and political processes rather than the legislature.

The court's reasoning mirrored that of Stuttgart's district court in September 2022 on an identical lawsuit by DUH against Mercedes-Benz, which the NGO has also appealed.

Several plaintiffs supported by Greenpeace have also filed lawsuits against Volkswagen, with verdicts expected this month.

(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; editing by Miranda Murray, Jason Neely and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)