Ulf Allhoff-Cramer is afraid that climate change will rob him of his livelihood.

The organic farmer from the district of Lippe in North Rhine-Westphalia has been observing for some time that the weather is changing.

"The extremes are getting stronger, long periods of drought and severe storms endanger our harvest and thus our livelihoods," he says.

He blames the industry, especially the automotive industry with its internal combustion engines.

Before the Detmold district court, he now wants to force Europe's market leader Volkswagen to drastically reduce the emissions of its vehicles.

Katja Gelinsky

Business correspondent in Berlin

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Christian Muessgens

Business correspondent in Hamburg.

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What looks like a David versus Goliath battle is the prelude to strategic climate lawsuits that environmentalists have launched against the auto industry.

Allhoff-Cramer is supported by Greenpeace, whose activists are also behind a similar lawsuit at the Braunschweig Regional Court.

In addition, the German Environmental Aid has initiated proceedings against Mercedes-Benz and BMW, all with the aim of achieving a quick end to diesel and petrol engines.

The first oral hearing begins in Detmold on Friday.

Allhoff-Cramer is confident of victory to the FAZ: "I'm confident that the judges will follow our arguments, after all it's about the future of the planet."

Manageable consequences

The lawsuits are part of a new legal chapter in the fight against climate change.

First, those responsible for politics were and are being targeted: governments and legislators who, in the opinion of climate protectionists, are not reacting quickly enough to global warming.

The high point so far has been the historic climate change resolution of the Federal Constitutional Court.

Its immediate consequences are manageable.

Politicians were obliged to improve the climate protection law.

At the same time, the Karlsruhe judges made it clear that future generations should not be left defenseless against the consequences of global warming.

By recognizing a constitutionally relevant "residual budget" for greenhouse gas emissions, the court gave climate protectionists a new instrument.

You will see how effective it is

Internationally, a verdict against Shell recently caused a stir.

The oil company was ordered by a district court in The Hague to reduce its CO2 emissions.

In Detmold, Allhoff-Cramer and Greenpeace now want to ensure that VW no longer sells combustion engines by 2030 at the latest.

They see tailwind through a process before the Higher Regional Court (OLG) Hamm.

A Peruvian mountain farmer's lawsuit against RWE is pending there.

He demands compensation for the fact that his farmstead in the Andes is threatened by a glacier melt, for which the emissions from the Essen-based energy company are partly responsible.

The Higher Regional Court indicated that the lawsuit was conclusive and held out the prospect of an on-site visit to the Peruvian village to take evidence.