At the Planet Talks, WOMADelaide, Polly Higgins introduced the need for a 5th international law – to eradicate Ecocide.
A law ending Ecocide – no more mass damage and destruction – is far more likely than it may appear at first sight. Polly describes her ‘light bulb moment’ – how is it that this is not a crime? She realised there were international precedents, that the Rome Statutes create a structure for such law and it was an extraordinary gap. Subsequently, she generated substantial support from some of the 82 signatory countries that are necessary to enact international law. Eradicating ecocide law would change our investment landscape, redirecting funding to clean technology alternative and supporting national environmental legislation.
On stage with Polly was Tim Flannery and Peter Garrett. The ecocide concept impressed to such an extent that Tim saw Polly as the next William Wilberforce. An extraordinary seminal figure in the history of positive change.
Unfortunately, as Tim pointed out, William spent 44 years introducing bills to the British parliament to end slavery. During this time many people must have thought he was either crazy or sadly deluded. There was no hope of ending slavery. There were far too many rich and powerful vested interests who wished to profit further at other’s expense.
Fast forward 200 years. Does this sound familiar? Powerful vested interests that would prefer maintaining the fossil fuel status quo? It’s not the first time such comparisons have been made.
So, can we wait 44 years? Or are we already the equivalent of 40 years into this movement, especially given how exponentially faster waves of change are today? Here’s why I think international law to eradicate ecocide may be possible and upon us.
The abolish slavery movement arrived at a time when global awareness was growing substantially. A revolutionary time for human liberty, equity and justice albeit equally one of great struggle. Fast forward to today and we have an analogous physical reality. There’s a growth of consciousness alongside awareness of the gross scale ecological systems collapses that are confronting us. Old polluting technology is becoming irrelevant (such as a 1/2 trillion dollar threat)
As an analogy, many would have thought you were mad if you said the Berlin Wall was about fall in 1988. Yet that is exactly what happened through 1989.
Ending ecocide may just be more realisable than many believe. Notwithstanding this, for large scale investors in fossil fuel or environmentally destructive activity, its a major investment consideration.