What is ecocide?
Ecocide refers to mass damage and destruction of ecosystems – severe harm to nature which is widespread or long-term. Examples could include oil spills, mass deforestation, air or ocean pollution, mining damage and emissions.
Why do we need to stop ecocide?
Acts of ecocide are making the climate and nature emergencies worse.
Ecocide is destroying our natural environment and causing misery, injury and even death to people and animals across the globe every day.
A law to stop ecocide will help to protect the places and people we all care about. Preventing ecocide will help safeguard our planet for future generations.
What are some examples of ecocide?
Activities such as deforestation, pollution and industrial accidents can be classed as ecocide. Recently, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has resulted in several incidents of ecocide, including the alleged deliberate destruction of the Kakhova dam.
Who would an ecocide law target?
The law would see individuals at the top of governments or firms held personally to account and directly punished – rather than corporations walking away with slaps on the wrist or fines they can easily afford.
What is the Rome Statute?
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Rome Statute established four core international crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
The global ecocide campaign aims for this offense to be added to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, meaning ecocide would join the list of gravest crimes of concern to the international community.
What would an ecocide law in Scotland aim to do?
The law aims to be a preventative measure, influencing future behaviour rather than punishing past behaviour; making acts of ecocide illegal and punishable by imprisonment or severe sanctions aims to prevent incidents of ecocide in Scotland occurring at all.
Doesn’t Scotland already have laws to protect the environment?
Scotland does have environmental laws, but they are patchwork with varying offences for different crimes. An ecocide law provides a strong uniform penalty that covers all aspects of harms to our environment.
Who else supports this law?
Pope Francis backs the plan, saying ecocide amounts to a further “category of crimes against peace which should be recognised as such by the international community”. The Scottish Green Party have backed proposals to criminalise ecocide in Scotland and the UK Labour party is committed to amending the Rome Statute to recognise ecocide. Other figures calling for the change include UN chief Antonio Guterres, climate campaigner Greta Thunberg and Sir Paul McCartney.
What is the Legal Definition of Ecocide?
The International Expert Panel convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation has provided the following legal definition:
“Ecocide” means unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.
Why do we need a law in Scotland to stop ecocide?
Current laws that protect the environment are often difficult to enforce. By introducing clear and uniform legislation against environmental destruction, we can deter would-be polluters with the knowledge that they could be held legally accountable for the serious damage that they cause.
Criminalising ecocide sets a moral standard. When serious harm to nature is taken as seriously as serious harm to people, we can better understand our responsibilities to the planet we live on. Making ecocide a crime would clearly show that Scotland will not tolerate deliberate environmental damage.
Who are Stop Ecocide International?
Stop Ecocide International (SEI) was co-founded in 2017 by pioneering Scottish barrister Polly Higgins and current Executive Director Jojo Mehta.
“…imagine a law that has a higher moral authority… a law that puts people and planet first. Imagine a law that starts from first do no harm, that stops this dangerous game and takes us to a place of safety...” Polly Higgins, 2015
SEI is the driving force behind the growing global movement to make ecocide an international crime and supporting campaigns across the world in criminalising ecocide at the national level.
Why do we need an ecocide law in Scotland?
Criminalising ecocide in Scotland introduces the strongest possible sanctions for causing environmental destruction and as a result prevents further acts of destruction from occurring.
Countries across the world are introducing or already have laws criminalising ecocide. It is crucial that Scotland stands with the international community against ecocide.
What countries already criminalise ecocide?
Individual states are looking at establishing ecocide laws, in places like the Netherlands, Brazil, Spain – and now Scotland. In a breakthrough in March, the European Union announced plans to include ecocide level crimes in a reform of its laws.
How can I help stop ecocide?
You can complete the consultation, sign up to receive updates here and you can write to your local MSP or MP saying you support a law in Scotland criminalising ecocide here