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 California targets motor pollution

Friday 22 September 2006

carA legal challenge brought by the State of California against several major car manufacturers over climate change could become a landmark case against corporate polluters, say green groups. The case has been brought by state authorities on behalf of the People of California against General Motors, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and Nissan.

The case is seeking ‘monetary compensation’ for climate change damage caused by emissions. Attorney General Bill Lockyer, filing the lawsuit, claims that the ‘uncurbed’ emissions from the so-called ‘Big Six’ car manufacturers have contributed significantly to California’s environmental health, costing the state millions in existing and future responses to the problem.

“Global warming is causing significant harm to California’s environment, economy, agriculture and public health. The impacts are already costing millions of dollars and the price tag is increasing,” said Lockyer. “Vehicle emissions are the single most rapidly growing source of the carbon emissions contributing to global warming, yet the federal government and automakers have refused to act. It is time to hold these companies responsible for their contribution to this crisis.”

Environmental campaign groups warmly welcomed the development, claiming that it could represent a watershed case against polluting companies.

"This was a case waiting to happen. It is the most significant piece of climate change litigation that has ever been brought. It shows that those who suffer damage from climate change can seek compensation in the courts,” said Roda Verheyen, co-Director of the Climate Justice Programme. “Car makers should realise that they cannot continue business-as-usual and realise high profits while destroying the climate by selling high-consumption engines."

Catherine Pearce, Friends of the Earth International's Climate Change Coordinator, added; "For far too long companies like these have failed to take appropriate action to curb the environmental damage their activities cause. The Bush Administration must face up to its global responsibilities. It can start by backing this legal challenge."

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