June 25, 2020
Ecocide, large-scale damage, destruction or loss of ecosystems, must be made a criminal offense under French law. This is one of the most important proposals of the Civic Council Convention Citoyenne pour le Climat (CCC), which was set up by the French president Macron. According to the council the population should vote on this proposal in a referendum.
The Civic Council recommends taking the framework of the so-called “nine planetary boundaries for Earth” as a starting point. The nine planetary boundaries have been established by the Stockholm Resilience Centre. These include, for example, climate change, loss of biodiversity, ocean acidification and chemical pollution. When these limits are exceeded, there is considerable risk that the road to ecological restoration will be completely cut off.
Plastic Soup Foundation fully endorses the call of the French Civic Council and proposes the acknowledgement of the plastic soup problem as the tenth planetary boundary.
–> read the Stop Ecocide press release.
Plastic Soup Foundation interviewed Katy Olivia van Tergouw, acting director of the Stop Ecocide Foundation.
What is the core of the problem?
enough, activities that cause serious environmental damage, global warming or
loss of biodiversity are not prohibited. The international community lacks
legislation to take to justice those responsible for serious ecological damage.
Countries and companies can just act as they choose and exploit Earth for their
own gain, without being accountable for the ecological damage they cause.’
Can you give some examples?
Brazilian President Bolsonaro does not hinder and even promotes the burning of
Amazon rainforests, he cannot be held accountable. Or take Coca-Cola, every
year this multinational company sells more than 100 billion plastic bottles
worldwide. Millions of these bottles end up in the environment. The company
continues to sell the bottles knowing that it will cause ecological damage, but
none of the management can be held accountable.’
How can ecocide be made a criminal offense?
can be done by changing the legislation, as proposed by CCC for France.
However, ecocide affects the entire Earth and must therefore also apply
internationally. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been set up to
prosecute persons suspected of genocide, crimes against humanity and war
crimes. These crimes are enshrined in the Rome Statute, an international treaty
from 1998. In 2018, the crime of aggression was added. We advocate that
“ecocide” should be added to this list as the fifth international
crime. It is actually very simple: without legislation there is no crime and
therefore no legal protection of our ecosystems.’
Is there public support for this idea?
call to recognize ecocide as a crime is getting louder and louder. CCC’s
proposal for a national referendum in France was adopted almost unanimously.
That is very encouraging. People are well aware that environmental damage is
often irreversible. It must be made possible to hold personally accountable
those who are guilty of this and those who responsible – such as Heads of State
or CEOs. Ultimately it is up to the judge to pronounce a verdict.’
There is increasing support, but how does it work procedurally?
sufficient member states agree, criminalization of ecocide can quickly become a
reality. The first steps have already been taken. In December 2019, two
sovereign states – Vanuatu and the Maldives – officially appealed to the
International Criminal Court to consider recognizing such a crime.
countries face all kinds of problems due to climate change. In the Netherlands,
the ‘Partij voor de Dieren’ (Party for the Animals) is currently preparing an
initiative proposal asking the government to support the acknowledgement of
ecocide as (international) crime. Our organization facilitates this process
What can citizens do?
‘We hope that more and more people and organizations, such as the Plastic Soup Foundation, will understand the importance of ecocide legislation and support our campaign. This will spark the necessary discussion about how we can use legislation to protect Earth and all its inhabitants. If that does not happen, matters won’t change and ecocide will remain business as usual.’
Photo: NASA Earth Observatory – Fires and Deforestation on the Amazon Frontier, Rondonia, Brazil – August 12, 2007
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