Friday, November 15, 2019

Recognising Ecocide

My letter today to Zac Goldsmith:


Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency

Cc: Sandra Keen, Labour Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency
      Sarah Olney, Liberal Democrat Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency
[Caroline Shah, Independent Candidate for Richmond Park Constituency - no email found]

Dear Zac

Thank you for your letter of 31st October written as Minister of State for DEFRA and DFID in response to my letter of 23rd August.

I was a bit disappointed that you did not dig deeper into the matter of recognising Ecocide, but merely repeated the Government’s claim that it “does not recognise Ecocide”. As I pointed out in my letter of 23rd August, Ecocide is defined in a submission to the UN Law Commission as “extensive loss or damage to, or destruction of ecosystem(s) of a given territory(ies), such that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminished.”  This clearly applies to the deliberate destruction by fire of the Amazon, and in observing those fires, anyone can recognise that ecocide is taking place, since the word “recognise” implies to acknowledge the existence of a thing.

In your letter, you state that Government believes that “countries should have sufficient mechanisms in place, legal and otherwise, to ensure they are able to protect biodiversity and their important ecosystems”. This clearly is not happening in the case of Brazil and of many other countries in the world, including, arguably, our own country. One single overarching international law is necessary to prevent the many manifestations of ecocide.

You are as much aware as anyone that ecocide is taking place across the surface of our planet. We have lost 80% of the biomass of wild mammals in the last 50 years, and insects are on a trajectory that could render them substantially extinct by 2100. You know that this is a very serious situation indeed. Genocide is already, rightly, a crime. Ecocide must become a crime also.

I ask you to take advantage of this election period to reconsider the response you gave as a Minister, and if re-elected, and if re-appointed to the position you held, I ask you to press within Government for ecocide to become a crime. If you are not re-elected, I hope that you will throw your weight behind the campaign for ecocide to become a crime.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

Richard Lawson

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