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July 29, 2021
Study Reveals Human Cost of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The mortality cost of carbon (PDF), a study published by Nature Communications, projects the number of lives that will be lost due to earth’s rising temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions. The study introduces a new metric, the mortality cost of carbon (MCC), that estimates the “expected temperature-related excess deaths globally from 2020 to 2100 caused by the emission of one additional metric ton of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions in 2020.” In its central scenario, the study finds that there are 83 million projected excess deaths between 2020 and 2100 and reports that by the end of this century, “the projected 4.6 million excess yearly deaths would put climate change 6th on the 2017 Global Burden of Disease risk factor risk list ahead of outdoor air pollution (3.4 million yearly excess deaths) and just below obesity (4.7 million yearly excess deaths).” Dirty Diesel emissions and the use of defeat devices by automakers contribute to environmental harm, and these damages are part of the reason we are litigating these cases.

STITCHTING EMISSION CLAIM’S INVESTIGATION OF RENAULT

The law firm Hagens Berman is now assisting Emission Claim in its claim on behalf of owners and lessees of Renault and Dacia diesel vehicles that were registered, sold or leased in 2009-2019 in the Netherlands. In real world driving conditions, with the emissions control systems shut down or off, the vehicles produce illegally and unconscionably high levels of NOx. Renault's conduct has decreased the value of its Renault and daughter company’s Dacia diesel vehicles, and the high NOx emissions have created environmental pollution and deleteriously affected human health across the EU.

According to independent testing conducted on the affected Renault and Dacia diesel vehicles, the cars’ emission control systems are only fully functional in very limited circumstances in order to pass the emissions test required under the EU-wide emissions standards. Like Volkswagen, Mercedes and other diesel car makers, Renault used illegal “defeat devices” to shut down emissions control technology outside of the governmental test environment in order to save money and maximize the cars’ performance in real-world driving. The Renault diesels were therefore only able to comply with the EU-wide NOx emissions limit by cheating on the emissions tests mandated by the EU emissions standards.

Indeed, independent testing of Renault diesels in ordinary driving conditions in normal ambient air temperatures demonstrate a systemic failure to meet emissions standards. Renault admittedly programmed the exhaust gas recirculation system (“EGR”), a major emissions control system, to shut down when the outside temperature was 17 degrees Celsius or lower, causing massive amounts of NOx to poison the environment. As a result of this and other defeat devices employed by Renault, its vehicles spewed up to 16 times the legally permitted NOx, making Renault vehicles among the very worst offenders in the still-unfolding Dieselgate scandal.

Like Volkswagen and Mercedes, Renault did not act alone. The defeat devices were enabled by the vehicles’ Electronic Diesel Control, the EDC 17 provided by Robert Bosch GmbH. Without Bosch’s active participation in developing, programming and calibrating the EDC 17, Renault could not have perpetrated the large-scale diesel fraud.

THE CASE IN THE NETHERLANDS

The law firm Hagens Berman is now assisting the Emission Claim Foundation by bringing its expertise to a lawsuit started by the Amsterdam law firm Kennedy Van der Laan in the Netherlands on behalf of Renault and Dacia owners and lessees across Europe, taking advantage of new laws in the Netherlands making it easier for European consumers to bring these claims. The lawsuit also names Bosch as a defendant in light of the key role played by Bosch and its EDC 17 in inflicting this massive diesel fraud on European consumers and the environment.

The fight to seek justice on behalf of Renault and Dacia owners and lessees was strengthened in December 2020 when the EU Court of Justice concluded that ‘ a manufacturer cannot install a defeat device which systematically improves, during approval procedures, the performance of the vehicle emission control system and thus obtain approval of the vehicle.' While the case did not concern Renault cars, the 2020 Court of Justice opinion rejected the argument proffered by Renault and other diesel makers that shutting down emissions control systems was proper to prevent wear and tear on the engine.

Shortly after the Emission Claim Foundation filed its Writ against Renault and Bosch, Renault revealed that French investigators have charged Renault with criminal deceit in connection with its diesel vehicles, and required the company to make a 20 million-euro bail payment and provide a 60 million-euro bank guarantee. The Emission Claim Foundation believes that these criminal payments are just the tip of the iceberg, and that Renault’s liability to Renault and Dacia owners is massive.

The French charges come after a six-year investigation of Renault and other diesel carmakers in response to the Volkswagen dieselgate scandal. In October of 2015, the French government convened an independent commission (the “Royal Commission”). The Royal Commission’s reports, published in 2016, showed that the Renault diesels were amongst the worst of all the vehicles tested, emitting NOx levels up to 10 times higher than the legal maximum. Given a chance to explain its horrific results, Renault admitted that the EGR system was only active at temperatures between 17 and 35 degrees Celsius in order to “protect the engine.” To make matters worse, the cars’ other major emissions control device—the so-called “lean NOx trap” or “LNT”—was not active when operating at higher speeds.

In response to the results of the Royal Commission, Renault recalled 15,000 Renault Captur and Kadjar vehicles for the purpose of “updating the calibration” in the cars. In addition, Renault has undertaken to extend the temperature range for the operation of the EGR to 10-45 degrees Celsius in its existing Euro 6 diesels—too little too late for Dutch drivers given that the average temperature in the Netherlands is lower than 10 degrees Celsius for 7 months each year. Finally, Renault pledged that the LNT systems in Renault Euro 6 diesels would be “voluntarily” corrected with a software update.

The Emissions Claim Foundation has filed this litigation to allow Renault and Dacia drivers across Europe to obtain compensation for the damages they have suffered as a result of the deceptive conduct committed by Renault and its partner Bosch.

WHAT DID RENAULT DO WRONG?

Diesel technologies were sold by the vehicle manufacturer on the basis that they would work to boost performance, provide better fuel economy and produce lower emissions.

  • The components of this technology include: High-pressure fuel injection to provide optimal pressure and operation.
  • Exhaust gas recirculation to reduce harmful emissions in the “pre-treatment” phase.
  • A post-treatment system—first the lean NOx trap (“LNT”), which was later replaced with selective catalytic reduction (“SCR”). Both the LNT and the SCR systems are designed to convert nitrogen oxide emissions into two separate and harmless elements, nitrogen and oxygen.

Renault sold all diesel cars offering this technology on the basis that car buyers could take advantage of the performance of a diesel engine without harming the environment.

Renault used this technology throughout its range of Renault and Dacia diesel vehicles, allegedly so there would be no compromise to the consumer. The technology was sold to the public as ‘clean’ diesel technology under Renault’s “eco2 label,” reflecting “sound ecological and economical credentials” as Renault put it. However, the evidence suggests that was not the case; Renault diesel vehicles were in fact fitted with defeat devices, and there were no environmental benefits to the technology as it was not breaking down the emissions into less harmless elements for cleaner air.

WHAT IS NITROGEN OXIDE (NOX)

Nitrogen Oxide is a group of highly reactive gases made up of nitrogen and oxygen, which is formed when nitrogen comes into contact or has a reaction with oxygen producing NOx.

NOx has direct impacts on human health, mainly affecting respiratory conditions causing inflammation of the airways. Long term exposure in high volumes can decrease lung function, increase the risk of respiratory conditions, and increase the response to allergens. People who suffer from common illnesses such as Asthma and Bronchitis will have increased sensitivity to the pollutant.

It also affects the environment as the gas is toxic and corrosive, making it one of the causes of acid rain.

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