What is ‘ecocide’, the new crime proposed for France?

The creation of an ecocide crime, described as any action causing serious damage to the environment, could be submitted to a national referendum.

It comes after the Citizens' Climate Conference's proposal to add it into the French Constitution.

If added to the Constitution it would allow the government to punish serious environmental damage made by companies.

The definition of ecocide, proposed by the conference is “any action which has caused serious environmental damage by contributing to overstepping the planet's limits committed with knowledge of the consequences which would result from the action and which could not be ignored.”

The creation of this crime would result in a fine and a risk of imprisonment for officers of companies damaging the environment. It is suggested that the fine could be “a significant percentage of the turnover” of a company. The “planet's limits” mentioned include climate change, chemical pollution, and biodiversity erosion.

The Citizens’ Climate Conference was created after the gilets jaunes crisis in France. 150 members were selected at random from the general public to discuss and suggest ideas to the government.

If President Macron agrees with their proposal, a referendum could be held on this.

After the referendum, if the citizens agree, the crime of ecocide and the fight against climate change will both be included in the Constitution.

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