When you aren’t the popular kid anymore, enemies come from all kinds of surprising places. Reuters, citing the Chinese-state-owned newspaper China Daily, reports that the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBGDF) has initiated a lawsuit against Volkswagen over the emissions defeat software. Of the 11 million cars worldwide known to use the emissions defeat device,VW says 1,950 of them are in China.
The legal action has been brought as a matter of public interest, the CBGDF saying that VW “produced the problematic vehicles for the pursuit of higher profits and circumvented Chinese laws, which has worsened the air pollution and affected public health and rights.” In what some might consider irony, the CBGDF filed the case in the port city of Tianjin, which was in the news over the summer because of explosions at the port that continued for an entire weekend and destroyed huge numbers of vehicles from various automakers, including thousands of Volkswagens.
In June this year the CBGDF joined the United Nations’ Global Compact that is working to align global businesses with ecodiversity. According to the UN Global Compact site the Chinese NGO has ten employees, and this isn’t the first public interest lawsuit it’s filed this year: in July it called two US oil companies into court over a spill that occurred in Bohai Bai in 2011. The Chinese government is taking the VW issue seriously, as are other local NGOs, one saying, “Volkswagen must be responsible for its destruction of China’s environment.” On the other hand, a US air pollution research institute estimated that smog in China “was responsible for some 1.2 million premature deaths in 2010 alone.”