This week saw Polly Higgins addressing a panel event on the theme of climate ecocide at the International Criminal Court’s assembly of State Parties held this year at the UN, New York.
The event held to highlight how ecocide law can address climate justice was chaired by Wouter Veening, Director of the Institute of Environmental Security (far left in the photo), Dr. Fidel Jaramillo Paz y Miño, former Director, Truth Commission and Human Rights Office, Ecuador (left) was also on the panel, as was His Excellency Ambassador Laloniu of Tuvalu (right).
What do you do if your whole nation only lives 2 metres above water and sea-levels rise? There is no mountain to climb. States such as Tuvalu (in the Pacific) do not want to leave; but what choice do they have in the face of climate change?
Is it possible to stop dangerous industrial activity, abate climate change and safeguard millions from displacement? We think so - by holding State officials to account for loss and damage.
Our side-event this week on climate ecocide shone a light on the inadequacy of impunity of another kind (freedom from the injurious consequences of an action) - climate impunity: primary responsibility for climate ecocide rests with States; State in-action can be held to account, especially now that the direct causal link is globally acknowledged between rising temperatures, carbon emissions and the major carbon emitters.
Climate ecocide as a crime can create the mechanism that is needed here, lifting the climate vulnerable states out of disaster relief status and according them the support they require, including migration with dignity where that is required.