Polly Higgins names top Shell bosses as key suspects at launch of climate ecocide investigation

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The Hague, 6th Dec: Preliminary examination launched

This week it finally came - Polly's opportunity to really spell it out for governments, industry, public and press: Is it now time to urgently amend the Rome Statute to include ecocide? Due to the revelatory nature of this event we couldn't have publicised it in advance... but this what kept us so busy and quiet over the last few weeks:


Our non-profit Ecological Defence Integrity has launched, in conjunction with forensic data analysts INTERPRT, an independent Preliminary Examination into the potential crime of climate ecocide.  

Full information on this investigative work is now visible at a dedicated site www.earth-law.org.



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Left to right:

the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden,

the CEO of Shell Netherlands Marjan van Loon and also

the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes.

Independent investigative work has already commenced.  The examination shall scrutinise evidence suggesting that Shell knew that significant adverse impacts arise from their activities. Crucially, evidence has come to light to suggest that the public has been misled over a lengthy period of 30+ years, and such evidence could amount to a crime.

Climate crime

The problem is that climate negotiations have never taken criminal law into consideration despite the fact that the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes to prevent climate catastrophe. A criminal law of ecocide would impose a legal duty on governments to protect the public from dangerous industrial practices. Hurricanes will not wait whilst we endlessly vacillate over agreements which cannot be enforced.

Complying with ICC requirements


The International Criminal Court (ICC) already welcomes communications filed by individuals. The present examination goes beyond  ICC requirements, to determine additionally whether there is sufficient evidence to satisfy the elements of a crime of ecocide and if so whether, on the evidence, there are grounds to trigger the rapid establishment of ecocide as an atrocity crime. Findings shall be subject to the same stringent conditions and rigorous scrutiny as required by official ICC procedures.

“I look forward to publicly reporting our findings,” says Polly. “If the evidence shows that industrial activity known to exacerbate climate breakdown has been permitted to continue, then both the Dutch government minister and Shell's senior officers could be held responsible for pervasive impacts on the world's population at large, including the systemic and widespread collapse of ecosystems.

“Ecocide is the missing international crime of our time.”