The automaker has been resisting demands of reducing carbon emissions and ending production of internal combustion engine cars by 2030.
Greenpeace has sued Volkswagen in Germany, accusing the automaker of failing to do its part to combat climate change.
Volkswagen did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the NGO lawsuit filed in a German court on Tuesday.
Volkswagen had earlier argued that the duty to tackle climate change ultimately lay not with the courts, but the legislative branch of government.
“Civil claims against individual companies are neither the appropriate means nor forum for addressing this important matter,” it said in a statement to Fortune magazine last October.
The automaker stood firm on its decision to continue selling combustion engine cars, but pledged commitment to doing its part for the climate by becoming carbon neutral in 2050 at the latest.
"Volkswagen already committed clearly to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2018 and has the most ambitious electrification strategy, investing 35 billion euros in electro mobility by 2025," a spokesperson said in September when Greenpeace made its demands.
Before filing the suit, the claimants had given Volkswagen eight weeks to consider certain demands, including ending production of internal combustion engine cars by 2030 and reducing carbon emissions by at least 65% from 2018 levels by then.
READ MORE: Volkswagen to stop producing cars with combustion engines in EU by 2035
Greenpeace files lawsuit against Volkswagen @VWGroup!— Greenpeace PressDesk (@greenpeacepress) November 9, 2021
VW’s business model is incompatible with the 1.5°C goal.https://t.co/nrnwUIpAXh
Holding companies responsible
A similar lawsuit was filed in late September by the heads of German environmental organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe against BMW and Daimler.
Both companies had also rejected demands to end production of fossil fuel-based cars by 2030 and limit CO2 emissions before then.
The lawsuits draw on two prior climate-related cases.
The first is a German ruling in May 2020 that the country was failing to protect future generations from the consequences of climate change.
The second is a Dutch ruling the same month, ordering oil firm Shell to reduce its emissions. This was the first time a private company was held responsible for its impact on the climate.
READ MORE: EU slaps $1B fine on VW, BMW, Audi, Porsche in emission scandal