Climate Crime: Can Responsibility for Climate Change Damage be Criminalised?

As the world drifts towards dangerous climate change, there have been allegations that the acts or behaviour of governments, corporations and even individuals constitute “climate crimes.” In the near future, nations that see themselves as victims of climate change may also use the allegation of climate crime to seek redress from those they hold responsible. It is unlikely that exceeding emission targets or failing to assist victim states with adaptation efforts will be criminalised, although they may be subject to stronger or new civil sanctions in international law. Nevertheless, some harmful acts which contribute to climate change damage and are relatively easy to monitor and prosecute are likely to be subject to criminal sanctions.

In June 2008, NASA climate scientist James Hansen used the 20th anniversary of his famous 1988 speech to the US Congress on the looming threat of the greenhouse effect to … call for the chief executives of large fossil fuel companies to be put on trial for high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming in the same way that tobacco companies blurred the links between smoking and cancer. Hansen was not the first to couch responsibility for climate change damage in the rhetoric of criminal law. Early in 2005, Greenpeace activists in England temporarily shut down the Range Rover assembly line, declaring it a “climate crime scene” to publicise their opposition to the greenhouse gas emissions from large vehicles. Since then, the term “climate crime” has been used to refer to a range of activities which cause large-scale greenhouse gas emissions and other allegedly climate-unfriendly acts including the clearing of forests in logging operations or for agriculture, the release of refrigerants which harm the ozone layer, eating meat8 or even driving to the corner shop.

Copyright: © Lexxion Verlagsgesellschaft mbH
Quelle: Issue 3/2010 (Oktober 2010)
Seiten: 13
Preis inkl. MwSt.: € 41,65
Autor: Dr. Marc Byrne

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