Will the Volkswagen scandal fuel a new generation of young ethical activists?


The Volkswagen emissions scandal could prompt a new wave of interest from investors in scrutinising corporate behaviour and hunting down ‘ethical’ alternatives for their pensions and Isas, experts have argued.

The world’s biggest carmaker VW faces a US fine of $18billion (£12bn) and a meltdown in its brand after being caught cheating emissions tests, designed to reduce pollution, in order to boost their models’ fuel efficiency.

VW has admitted that 11 million cars across the world contain the software used, including Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf, and Passat, all potentially pumping out fumes that are 40 times the legal limit.

The pollution caused by such cars over the last six years could well dwarf all of the UK’s more toxic NOx emissions from power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture combined.

There could also be a huge knock-on effect on the value of diesel cars on our driveways, which have been outselling petrol models in the UK since 2010 and account for 53 per cent of sales across the EU. Road tax has been cheaper for diesels ever since the 2001 Budget, based on their apparent lower emissions, and Labour also brought in tax breaks favouring diesel company cars.

Lawyers are already talking of raising collective actions against VW on behalf of UK drivers, using the new Consumer Rights Act which comes into force next Thursday.

Now responsible investment organisation Share Action has called for investors to be more vigilant about the car sector as a whole.

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