Analysis: Volkswagen Smog Cheating Should Cost Company at Least $25 Billion

Deception Led to Global Warming Equivalent of at Least 6.8 Million Extra Cars on Roads; 
Disclosure Sought of Total Pollution Amounts

OAKLAND, Calif.— A new analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity estimates that Volkswagen’s vast cheating scandal on smog testing also emitted powerful greenhouse gases equivalent to adding at least 32.2 million tons of extra carbon pollution into the atmosphere — or the emissions of 6.8 million cars.

The Center also calculated that financial penalties for Volkswagen’s environmental violations should at a minimum be $25.1 billion in the United States alone, which includes $18 billion in Clean Air Act penalties and another $7.1 billion for the damage to the world’s climate based on the social and ecological cost of burning fossil fuels. Those figures are based on estimates of the greenhouse gases emitted in tandem with NOx emissions above allowable limits, and the cost of carbon reported in a study that appeared this year in the journal Nature Climate Change.

This climate cost could be even higher because the CO2 emissions of these vehicles could double the levels normally expected, based on a report from the International Council of Clean Transportation last year. The Center today filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the Environmental Protection Agency seeking a full accounting of the actual amount of pollution released because of Volkswagen’s deception — information that’s likely to drive up the total estimated penalties.

Read more.

Learn more about the Center's Climate Law Institute.

Contact: Peter Galvin


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Banner photo courtesy Flickr/lalo_pangue; Volkswagen graphic by Center for Biological Diversity