The debate is useful

Climate protection : Why the "ecocide" debate is useful

In 2034, ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel will represent the Federal Republic of Germany before the International Court of Justice, the charge is: ecocide. It is the premise of the justice thriller of the same name, which caused a lot of discussion last November after it was broadcast on ARD. The international network "Stop Ecocide" is now working on creating a legal framework for this fictitious scenario. The activist group wants to ensure that ecocide is defined as a crime against peace and can therefore be tried before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

An international network wants "ecocide" to be put on the same level as genocide

Environmental degradation on par with genocide and crimes against humanity? The demand is gaining increasing political backing. Several European states such as Spain, Sweden or the Benelux countries want to enforce ecocide as an international crime, the EU Parliament supports such an approach, and even the Pope declared ecocide a Catholic sin. In June, the “Stop Ecocide” network wants to present a concrete legal definition of the term that will serve as a basis for decision-making.

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How difficult this is can currently be seen in France, where the National Assembly recently voted for the introduction of ecocide as a criminal offense. Polluters: in the future, they could be punished with fines in the millions or up to ten years in prison. The opposition calls the project a "abuse of language" that leads to a "normative hell". In France and on an international level, lawyers are now arguing about the term ecocide and its legal consequences. Even if there are still no polluters to answer in The Hague, the discussion is already creating the necessary urgency.

There is a hint of apocalypse in the word "ecocide" - but no false alarmism

In 2019, at the height of the climate movement so far, cities and countries declared a climate emergency and protest groups such as "Extinction Rebellion" made the extinction of species a part of society and politics. A touch of apocalypse as the final warning shot. There is no false alarmism behind this, but the hope that the activists' state of excitement will spill over into the control centers of power. Because the choice of words often creates the awareness necessary to cope with a problem. In her volume of essays “Calling things by their name”, the US author Rebecca Solnit writes that there is often a lack of the right language to name systemic acts of violence.

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Regardless of the legal chances of success and semantic differences, a term like ecocide provokes a necessary emotional response. Isn't that just now, after more than a year of daily crisis experience, at the right time? In the pandemic, haven't governments shown what is possible when everything is at stake?

It can only do good to help the lack of awareness of the climate crisis with a somewhat dystopian mood

In contrast to the virus, the environmental crisis is not yet perceived as an immediate threat, but rather as a danger on the horizon. It can only do you good to help out with a somewhat dystopian mood. This doesn't really require a judicial thriller, a look at the scientific evidence should be enough.

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