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International community weighs up ‘ecocide’ laws

Mexico is the latest nation proposing new penal codes to provide greater environmental protections. 

red maple leaf on black wire fence

As reported by Environment Journal back in June, Brazil’s ruling PSOL party has announced plans to tighten legislation relating to nature, ecosystems and climate. Laws would effectively mean any organisation, individual or company ‘performing illegal or wanton acts with the knowledge that they generate substantial probability of serious and widespread or long-term damage to the environment’ will face criminal prosecution. 

Now a new article is being considered for Mexico’s Federal Penal Code, which again bases itself on the legal definition of ecocide as formulated by experts convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation in 2021. In this instance, those found in breach would face between 10 and 15 years in prison, and fines of $1,000 to $1,500 pesos per day. 

This news comes as similar proposals in Scotland, the Netherlands, and Belgium make ground, with the latter government having recently approved its bill on second reading by the Federal Council of Ministers, bringing it one step closer to a becoming Belgian law. 

‘Similar initiatives are being prepared in Argentina, Chile and other Latin American countries. To adequately protect the environment, it is necessary for ecocide to become a crime not only internationally but also under national legislation,’ said Jojo Mehta, co-founder and Executive Director of Stop Ecocide Foundation.

Ecocide protection advocates argue these steps are necessary because existing protections are severely limited. Many focus on illegal actions and regulating activity, which still leaves nature vulnerable to acts known to cause severe environmental harm without actually breaking laws. 

‘Environmental destruction has caused regrettable repercussions in all ecosystems and biodiversity has been seriously affected, so that some species have become extinct and others are in danger of extinction,’ said Deputy Karine Marlen Barrón Perales, Deputy to the Congress of the Union of Mexico for Nuevo León.

‘Some states or cities have serious air pollution… There is also serious water pollution in rivers, seas and lakes… Human health has been affected by environmental problems causing respiratory, gastric and dermatological diseases as well as serious kidney, stomach and cancer ailments,’ she added.

More on law, the environment and ecocide: 

Should ecocide be criminalised?

Is ‘Youth v Montana’ climate court ruling really a landmark?

Construction Annual Waste Report shows rampant non-compliance

UK Government faces court action over climate inaction, again

Image: Fringer Cat

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