Maldives inhabited island in Kaafu atoll
Maldives inhabited island in Kaafu atoll

630 million lives can be protected by cutting carbon emissions to 2 °C.

Carbon emissions causing 4 °C increase (7.2 °F) — a business-as-usual scenario — could lock in enough eventual sea level rise to submerge land currently home to 470 to 760 million people globally. Carbon cuts resulting in the proposed international target of 2 °C increase (3.6 °F) would reduce the rise locked in so that it would threaten areas inhabited by 130 million people.*

(*Estimates, mapping and report by scientific research organization Climate Central)

6 of our planetary boundaries can be prevented from exceeding their limits.

Planetary boundaries consist of nine “planetary life support systems” essential for human survival; beyond these boundaries there is a risk of “irreversible and abrupt environmental change.” A tenth boundary has subsequently been suggested to determine the health of ecosystems. 4 of the 9 boundaries have already been exceeded: climate change, biosphere integrity, land system change and biogeochemical flows). **

(** Stockholm Reslience Centre)

90 Carbon Majors can be prohibited from dangerous industrial activity.

The results of the Carbon Major report provides documented evidence of dangerous industrial activity. Nearly two-thirds of carbon dioxide emitted since the 1750s can be traced to the 90 largest fossil fuel and cement producers, most of which still operate. The research attributes 63% of the carbon dioxide and methane emitted between 1751 and 2010 to just 90 entities. 50 are investor-owned companies such as Chevron, Peabody, Shell, and BHP Billiton. 31 are state-owned companies such as Saudi Aramco and Statoil, and 9 are government-run industries in countries such as China, Poland, and the former Soviet Union.***

(***Carbon Majors)

Never more has there been a time when the missing law of ecocide is required. Ecocide law is a legal route that will significantly abate sea-level rises, protect millions of lives and prevent serious harm to our planetary boundaries by imposing State and Corporate responsibility for dangerous industrial activity and climate change. Ecocide crime protects lives, prevents planetary boundary tipping-points and prohibits dangerous industrial activity.

The international crime of ecocide has yet to be implemented. The history of ecocide as an international crime goes back to the 1970’s (you can read a summary of the history here). Ecocide was to be included as an international crime (both as a Crime against Peace and as a Crime of State Responsibility). But, it was removed both from the drafting of the Rome Statute and the Crimes of State Responsibility in 1996.

Facts produce knowledge based on evidence; but sometimes evidence alone is not enough. Our emotions and our senses impart wisdom; only through our direct experience can we gain a sense of the beautiful, the wonder of the world that is our home. Without the sense of deep care for people and planet, our laws are singularly absent of proper governance. If a duty of care for all beings is progressive, then Earth law is the natural progression of where our law is required to go. Earth law, Earth rights and the governance of Earth rights by Ecocide law, is a whole new body of law. Ecocide law sits at the heart of Earth law. Ecocide law criminalises and imposes a legal duty of care, for not only people and planet, but also future generations and the wider Earth community.

 How we choose to leave our Earth is our legacy. Justice belongs equally to both people and planet. An imbalance of the scales of justice leads to significant harm – to many ecocides. The starting point is to rebalance the scales of justice and align human law to prevent ecocide, to restore the health of the Earth and protect the wider Earth community and its ecosystems.  Ours is a moral and legal obligation to ensure the safety, health and well-being of others, human and non-human. Ecocide law prevents harm by holding to account individuals who are in a position of superior responsibility. By making ecocide a crime, the duty lies with the State to take prosecutions on our behalf. Ecocide law is progressive law; it holds the corporate world to account. It also holds the political world to account. And, it holds the financial world to account. Business, governments and the economy currently have very little global governance or accountability for some of the most egregious ecological, cultural and naturally occurring harms known to humanity.

By prohibiting ecocide and creating a law that makes it mandatory to pro-actively assist climate displaced, humanity – and the Earth – can lock-in a radically different outcome.

Now we have a Model Ecocide law drafted. Now we can make it a crime to destroy the lives of many millions, a law that protects the very life of our Earth.