The pollution and destruction of our environment, as well as the depletion of natural resources are progressing fast and without restraint. Extensive damage or destruction of ecosystems is called ecocide. European Greens in London have joined this trans-European campaign that demands that crimes against nature be recognised as crime as well as direct liability for decision-makers in politics and business.
We have more than 150,000 signatures! It sounds like a lot, but we still need many more – as many as we can get by 7 October 2014. The European Parliament will be hosting a forum on this topic in mid-October, and we want to present hundreds of thousands of signatures to show the will of Europeans to do something concrete about ecocide, which is only a crime in times of war – what is the logic of not making it a crime in times of peace too?
Ecocide enshrined in European law would mean that sooner or later all European Union Member States would have to transpose this law into national legislation, thus making it much easier to tackle the risks of fracking, oil spillages or nuclear waste, just to mention a few activities that can easily end up causing extensive damage to ecosystems and people.
What would a law of ecocide change?
An ecocide law would mean ‘extensive damage’ or ‘destruction’ of ecosystems would become a crime. No intent is necessary. Companies and individuals could be held responsible. If a company commits ecocide, the CEO and the senior management will be held responsible.
The proposed Ecocide Directive is much stronger than existing EU environmental legislation. In existing law, each element contributing to life is more or less protected, air, soil, endangered species, flora and fauna; however, the legislation regards each element independently. The proposed Ecocide Directive, to the contrary, does look at entire ecosystems.
In addition, it shifts the focus away from risks (i. e. probabilities) towards consequences. If an activity has potentially devastating consequences it should be illegal, no matter how small the likelihood that the catastrophe occurs.
The ecocide law can contribute to a shift in values where future generations . It has the potential to trigger the transformation to the green economy.
The campaign calls for making ecocide a crime in 5 cases:
- Ecocide committed on EU territory; or
- Ecocide committed by EU citizens; or
- Ecocide committed by EU registered companies, even when operating outside EU; or
- The import of goods and services resulting from activities causing ecocide into EU;
- The financing by EU banks and other financial institutions of activities causing ecocide, no matter where these activities take place
An implemented ecocide directive will have worldwide implications.