Volkswagen 'among most criticised companies by NGOs'

Protest using Volkswagen logo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Greenpeace activists demonstrated at the entrance to the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg in November

German carmaker Volkswagen was one of the "most disliked" companies for pressure groups last year following its emissions scandal, a survey has found.

VW was the seventh most criticised firm in a top 10 dominated by energy and chemical companies, according to consultancy Sigwatch.

Shell was the most criticised by campaigners, followed by Monsanto, which makes genetically modified food.

Sigwatch monitored more than 7,500 non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The campaigners ranged from Greenpeace to Occupy to the consumer advocates Which? and groups focused on very specific issues such as airports expansion.

Singled out for most praise were Nestlé, Marks & Spencer and McDonald's.

But it was the increased criticism of VW which was one of the most striking findings, according to Sigwatch.


"Volkswagen didn't even figure as an NGO target in 2014. By 2015 they were the top seven most hated company in the world as far as NGOs went," Sigwatch managing director Robert Blood told the BBC.

"It's entirely because of 'Dieselgate'," he said, as pressure groups relaunched campaigns against greenhouse gas emissions with a new focus on VW.

VW was found in September to have fitted millions of US cars with defeat devices which disguised emission levels in diesel cars.

Half of the top-10 most criticised companies on Sigwatch's list were energy firms, because of "the elephant in the room - climate change," Mr Blood said.

Top was Shell, but TransCanada, ExxonMobil, EDF and BP also featured.

Shell said it would continue to engage with NGOs to ensure a "high-energy, low carbon, responsible energy future for our planet".


The "most sensitive" companies to NGO concerns were food companies and retailers.

That included M&S, which was praised for its environmental and animal welfare work, Mr Blood said.

"It knows what its customers want and its customers are Greenpeace supporters," he said.

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