End Ecocide in Europe
Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory. Let’s end Ecocide in Europe together!
What’s our aim?
The main idea of our initiative is intriguingly simple: Environmental destruction must become a crime. A crime for which those responsible can be held accountable.
What is ecocide?
Eco-cide derives from the Greek “oikos” meaning “house” or “home” and the Latin “caedere” meaning “stike down, demolish, kill”. It literally translates to killing our home. Ecocide is the destruction of our natural environment. Defined as the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory it covers all major environmental disasters.
- Ecocide is environmental destruction.
- Ecocide is damage or loss of ecosystems.
- Ecocide is the murder of humans, plants and animals.
- Ecocide ignores the rights of future generations.
- Ecocide is a crime.
Ecocide has been discussed since the 1970s as a potential international Crime Against Peace but was excluded from the Rome Statute. Today, it is a war crime, but allowed during peace. We believe it’s time to update the law Read more about the history of ecocide in the United Nations.
What would a law of ecocide change?
An ecocide law would mean ‘extensive damage’ or ‘destruction’ of ecosystems would become a crime, so someone committing ecocide is doing something illegal. No intent is necessary. Therefore, companies and individuals could be held responsible for committing ecocide according to criminal law and the principle of superior responsibility, i. e. those in positions of power would be convicted. If a company commits ecocide, the CEO and the senior management will be held responsible, not the average employee. 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 ecology, an ecosystem describes a unit composed of communities of living organisms and their environment. The elements that constitute an ecosystem develop a system, which exchanges both matter and energy, allowing life in the system to be maintained and to develop. By protection such ecosystems, the Ecocide Directive is much more encompassing than existing environmental legislation. 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 as well as the earth are given rights and biodiversity is preserved. It has the potential to trigger the transformation to the green economy, towards a way of doing business that places people and planet before profits.
The European Citizens Initiative “End Ecocide in Europe”
The European Citizens Initiative 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 the EU; or
- The import of goods and services resulting from activities causing ecocide into the EU; or
- 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. Many of the major companies committing ecocide are registered in the EU and European pension funds and banks are among the biggest investors in ecocide causing activities. Due to the provision prohibiting the import of goods and services resulting from activities causing ecocide the law creates a level-playing field as anyone wanting to sell inside the EU – a huge market – will have to comply with the rules.
How does it work?
The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is a directly democratic instrument that was introduced in the European Union in 2009 and is working since April 2012. It enables citizens to propose EU legislation. When 1 million EU citizens from at least 7 countries votes for our proposal, the European Commission will have to consider it and we will have the right to hold a public hearing in the European Parliament. This is much more than a petition, signing an ECI means exercising your legal rightas EU citizen to propose legislation.
Not from the EU?
Our European Citizens’ Initiative was born after some of us listened to Polly Higgins, an international lawyer proposing to make Ecocide the 5th Crime Against Peace. Ecocide would thus become illegal worldwide and any breachers of the law could be convicted by the International Criminal Court. Check out Polly’s TED talk.
If you are interested in the international Ecocide movement, please read more.