I’ve just come back from a talk about ecocide that was kind of a memorial for Stroud-based eco-barrister, Polly Higgins, who recently passed after a very swift battle with an aggressive cancer. As a founder of Mission Lifeforce (now re-branded and re-launched as StopEcocide.Earth) she died even as thousands of Extinction Rebellion folk were taking to the streets of London to fight for climate action.
The day was originally planned some time ago to be a speaking event where Polly would talk about the project alongside others at The Climate Change and Consciousness Conference, at Findhorn. When Polly became ill her talk was relocated to nearer home, at Hawkwood College in Stroud for beaming into the conference. Then, on 21st April, she passed into mystery at only fifty years of age and became as one with the ‘verse.
In place of Polly, who was surely there listening and smiling, both Gail Bradbrook, founder of Extinction Rebellion, and Jojo Mehta, co-founder of StopEcocide spoke beautifully and inspiringly about the recent surge in awareness and action for the protection of the planet. The whole thing was filmed by Lush, the soap folk, and so you may find it on YouTube etc. and I’ll link it here when I find it.
In a nutshell, the idea behind StopEcocide is to add the missing law of ecocide to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to sit alongside other the other laws – against genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and acts of aggression.
In fact it was always expected that ecocide would be a part of the Rome Statute, except that Britain and a couple of other countries veto’d it’s inclusion when the statute was adopted. With its inclusion, corporations that cause loss of or significant damage to ecosystems – even those given legal permissions by governments – can be criminally sanctioned. Directors and CEOs can be jailed.
Without this crime being recognised in law the planet relies upon individual countries systems of civil law (going to court to sue – v. expensive) or soft agreements such as Kyoto or the Paris Accord (plainly pretty much talking shops). And the years have shown how very ineffectual the soft and civil avenues are. Non-violent civil disobedience is making those in power sit back and re-think, but a law of ecocide would trump [cough] all the lobby folk arguing the status quo.
In a personal capacity, and as a trustee of The Druid Network, I signed the Earth Protectors Trust Fund declaration behind the StopEcocide movement. All the trustees and many members of The Druid Network signed in fact, as an act of Druidry in protecting the living land we share. Clicking on petitions and handing out leaflets and even the most powerfully conducted rituals have not made sufficient impact.
Shutting down parts of London by Extinction Rebellion appears to have made people look at the questions, and surely a law of ecocide is an important part of the answer. Do consider making the small positive action of signing the trust document and dropping five Euro into the trust fund.