The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess made the vow in a letter sent to the German branch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
PETA publicized the announcement on Monday. The animal rights group said Volkswagen will "never again use animals in testing unless required to do so by law" and will include the new ban in company's code of conduct that will be updated later this year.
The New York Times reported in January that the automaker funded a study in which macaque monkeys sat for hours in airtight chambers watching cartoons while inhaling diesel emissions from a Volkswagen Beetle and an old pickup truck. Diesel emissions experiments on monkeys were also documented in the new Netflix investigative series Dirty Money.
The macaque tests were carried out by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, a contracted laboratory based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The vehicle happened to be rigged with the Volkswagen's emissions-cheating software, which led to its notorious 2015 "dieselgate" scandal.
"Research projects and studies must always be balanced with consideration of ethical and moral questions," Diess wrote in the letter to PETA, as quoted by The New York Times. "Volkswagen explicitly distances itself from all forms of animal abuse. In the future, we will rule out all testing on animals, as long as there are no pressing—such as legal—reasons that would make this necessary."
Diess also said in the letter that the studies did not violate local laws.
PETA, which vigorously protested the experiments, celebrated the news.
"Volkswagen did the right thing in pledging not to conduct tests on animals, which are irrelevant to human health and not required by law," said PETA senior vice president Kathy Guillermo in a statement. "PETA is calling on other carmakers that still test on animals to follow suit and embrace modern and humane animal-free research methods instead."
Volkswagen is still climbing out of its emissions scam, in which the company installed a "defeat mechanism" in up to 11 million cars to ensure that the engine did not pollute during government tests. Affected cars emitted up to 40 times the legal amount of nitrogen oxide when driven outside the laboratory. VW has paid out $31 billion due to the scandal.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Europe is gearing up for another extreme heat wave that could set all-time records for several European countries.
Micro-Naps for Plants: Flicking the Lights on and off Can Save Energy Without Hurting Indoor Agriculture Harvests
By Kevin M. Folta
A nighttime arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport flies you over the bright pink glow of vegetable production greenhouses. Growing crops under artificial light is gaining momentum, particularly in regions where produce prices can be high during seasons when sunlight is sparse.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) former head of the Office of Air and Radiation who was instrumental in drafting policies that eased climate protection rules and pollution standards is under investigation by a federal watchdog for his dealings with the fossil fuel industry he was supposed to be regulating, according to the New York Times.
It's no secret that the Trump administration has championed fossil fuels and scoffed at renewable energy. But the Trump administration is trying to keep something secret: the climate crisis. That's according to a new analysis from the watchdog group Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) who found that more than a quarter of the references to climate change on .gov websites vanished.
By Adrienne Hollis
Climate change is a threat multiplier. This is a fact I know to be true. I also know that our most vulnerable populations, particularly environmental justice communities — people of color and/or low socioeconomic status — are suffering and will continue to suffer first and worst from the adverse effects of climate change. Case in point? Extreme heat.