June 28, 2016

VW Settlement Provides Accountability—But Can’t Undo the Damage VW Has Done

Statement from David Cooke, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (June 28, 2016) — Volkswagen has agreed to a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) following its admission that it cheated on emissions testing. This marks a vital moment for accountability for the automaker’s misconduct, but it can’t fully undo the damage Volkswagen has done, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. 

Below is a statement by David Cooke, Senior Vehicles Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Volkswagen will be hit hard by this settlement. They’ll need to set aside not only money to buy back or repair the cars they’ve sold, but also to compensate states for the environmental damage caused by the excess pollution from their vehicles. These funds must address the pollution these cars have already emitted, as well as future emissions from cars still on the road—since VW can’t fully fix the cars they’ve produced, and not all VW drivers will trade in or repair their cars. They will also need to devote funds to vehicle electrification. Ultimately, even with a strong settlement, thousands of cars will remain on the road, polluting at unacceptable levels. It’s critical that a serious penalty be imposed on VW by the Department of Justice for breaking the law.

“The scale of this settlement shows just how damaging VW’s cheating has been. By selling cars they knew exceeded safe pollution levels, VW has hurt public health and the environment—and betrayed the trust of consumers who had every reason to believe they were driving an environmentally responsible car. It’s hard to craft a settlement that can fully compensate for the magnitude of VW’s deliberate deception and the environmental impact of their misconduct.

“VW executives have only themselves to blame for the position they’re in. Instead of living up to the promises made to their customers, they decided to evade the law. This settlement will help hold them accountable, but it can’t undo the harm they’ve caused.” 

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.