Why ecocide crimes are crimes of recklessness

It used to be that ecocide was a crime of consequence per se, but now this is no longer the case.

Every crime is defined by its elements – what lawyers call Mens Rea and Actus Reus (the state of mind and the act).  Since the Paris Agreement, we have a situation where the Mens Rea in ecocide crime is that of recklessness, i.e disregarding available information and proceeding/or failing to prevent, regardless of knowledge.  (We know that in very few cases of ecocide is there an actual intent to harm). However no decision-maker can now claim ignorance of the potential harm resulting from dangerous industrial activity or failure to prevent it. This will be a key factor in international acceptance of ecocide as a crime. What is significant here is this: the nexus between corporate and State is well established. Bodies of evidence, such as the Carbon Majors research and the signing of the Paris Agreement, mean that corporations and States can no longer declare lack of knowledge when it comes to industrial and climate impacts.

Polly discusses recklessness at De Balie’s Freedom Lecture in Amsterdam. You can watch the full event here.