Make Automakers Pay for Harming the Public and the Environment

Target: Barbara Hendricks, German Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation, and Building and Nuclear Safety

Goal: Demand that the German auto industry pay for retrofitting cars, fix faulty cars, and reduce pollution.

In 2015, Volkswagen was caught in a scandal that exposed them for modifying emissions devices on their vehicles in order to pass standards during testing. Over 11 million cars worldwide were sold with these faulty devices, and as a result, air pollution increased. This is problematic especially in the EU where 70,000 premature deaths are linked to nitrogen oxide emissions, which diesel cars emit. The costs to retrofit these cars are expected to be upwards of $1,750, but even software updates will deliver a 25-30 percent improvement in air pollution.

Given that it was the car makers that intentionally installed false devices into cars in order to avoid air pollution standards, the public should not have to pay for the costs. Environmentalists are outraged and accuse government advisers of conspiring with auto bosses. Although diesel car sales have declined since the scandal, the auto industry remains a strong force in the German economy, and many are worried that putting the entire costs on them would have repercussions.

While many groups such as the German environmental and consumer protection nonprofit Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) are pushing to ban diesel cars from urban centers, this is not stopping consumers from driving diesel cars in the meantime. It is also not addressing the problem that automakers caused. The consumer should not be responsible for fixing a product that was sold under false pretenses. Help protect the environment and consumers from auto corporate exploitation and urge the German government to place costs for fixing faulty vehicles on the auto industry.


Dear Ms. Hendricks,

In 2015, Volkswagen was caught in a scandal–dieselgate as it is was named–when the company was exposed for violating the Clean Air Act. They did so by placing false emissions reading devices in their vehicles to pass standards tests. Today, the repercussions of this crime are still salient, as 70,000 premature deaths are linked to nitrogen oxides emitted by diesel cars. By creating and selling vehicles that were known not to pass standards, these automakers were violating laws and putting the environment and the public at risk–and they are still being let off the hook.

The German government is currently holding panels to determine the next course of action. Advisers have proposed that the German taxpayer should be responsible for retrofitting the software and hardware necessary to reduce air pollution from these faulty vehicles. The cost is estimated at more than $1,750 per car. This is neither fair nor ethical. The companies should be responsible for all costs and retrofitting simply because they are the ones who intentionally made the vehicles faulty. They are not the victims in this case.

I urge you to speak out against German automakers and advise the government to place costs on the industry, not the public. They are already paying for it in terms of personal health and environmental health, two things that cannot be so easily remedied.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Jon Worth

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    • GEN AGUSTSSON says:


  1. Rosslyn Osborne says:

    The company must pay these cars to be fixed!

  2. Thank you for the petition. I signed. Yes! From the letter:” personal health and environmental health, two things that cannot be so easily remedied.”

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