Ecocide is the willful destruction of the natural environment by human activity such as harmful industrial activity, land use causing habitat destruction, and practices resulting in pollution of air, land and water. Some examples of harmful practices are fossil fuel extraction, deforestation, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and greenhouse gases.
Climate change, increasing disease and infant mortality rates, ocean dead zones, and animal, insect and plant species loss are the result of ecocide.
Ecocide is bringing humanity to the brink of extinction. We can not continue on this path.
Polly Higgins, a British attorney specializing in ecocide law, is chairwoman of Eradicating Ecocide Global Initiative, co-founder of Earth Law Alliance and leading advocate for Earth law. She believes we have a legal duty to care for the Earth. In this TEDx Talk, Higgins describes how dangerous industrial practices lead to climate ecocide.
Higgins and other attorneys are working to establish legal liability for climate crime. In 2010, Higgins called for an ecocide amendment to the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC).
ICC acts as a court of last resort with the capacity to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes when national jurisdictions are unable or unwilling to do so. Adopted in 1998 and ratified by 123 of 195 countries on Earth, the Rome Statute has been in force since 2002.
The court lists four crimes against peace: ecocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression. Higgins proposed adding ecocide as the fifth crime, which would impose a legal duty on governments to protect people and Earth. Unfortunately, the ecocide amendment was not adopted by ICC.
Higgins and other attorneys are continuing their efforts. For ways you can help, go to Eradicating Ecocide.