Main image: Monica Lennon MSP at Barons Haugh
An MSP has lodged proposals for a Members’ Bill in the Scottish Parliament asking people to support an ecocide prevention law that could see big polluters jailed for between 10 and 20 years.
In a public consultation launched yesterday (08 November) Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour and Co-op MSP for Central Scotland, seeks the Scottish public’s views on plans to make their country the first UK nation to enforce ecocide law with tough sanctions acting as a deterrent to eco-criminals.
Several countries around the world – including Brazil and the Netherlands – are developing ecocide legislation in a bid to tackle the climate and nature emergency.
Under Lennon’s proposals, Scotland would emerge as a world leader in the fast-growing campaign to establish new domestic and international ecocide crimes globally.
‘Protecting Scotland’s nature from destruction must be at the top of everyone’s agenda but right now we don’t have a strong enough deterrent to stop the big polluters.
‘We must stop eco-criminals in their tracks, and ecocide law is the crime deterrent that our planet urgently needs. Under my proposals, Scotland will be the first country in the UK to make ecocide a crime and the tough sanctions in the consultation could see those who threaten our planet put in jail for between 10 and 20 years.
‘The aim is to prevent the worst harm to our planet from happening in the first place and to do so we need much tougher laws and enforcement. I’m pleased to be launching this public consultation today and welcome views from people from all communities, sectors and perspectives.’
MONICA LENNON MSP
Scottish Labour and Co-op MSP for Central Scotland
The Ecocide Law movement was the passion project of late Scottish barrister Polly Higgins who died in 2019.
The proposed new laws are a response to ineffective existing environmental regulation which does not adequately deter the worst polluters.
A new standalone crime of ecocide would target the most harmful acts against the environment and for the first time allow the courts to pursue individual decision makers at the highest level of government and business.
‘This is a pioneering step from Scotland and one that will be noticed across the globe.
‘We currently lack national and international legal mechanisms to shield us from the most severe harms to nature. Today, Scotland has emerged as a global leader in addressing this legal gap by embarking on the journey to establish criminal laws that genuinely protect both people and the planet.
‘In recent months, ecocide bills have been proposed or advanced in the EU, Brazil, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain (Catalunya) and Mexico. Today, Scotland is joining these forward-thinking nations in taking meaningful, practical steps to address the very real threats we face as a species.’
Executive director of Stop Ecocide International
This new initiative in Scotland is supported by Stop Ecocide International, the organisation leading the global conversation on ecocide law, which has many high-profile supporters including Greta Thunberg, Pope Francis and Paul McCartney.
Several members of UK Labour, including David Lammy, have publicly suggested that the Party would actively support ecocide crimes being prosecuted at the International Criminal Court if Labour wins the next general election. Whilst in Scotland, the Scottish Green Party has indicated support of the proposed bill.
‘It is vital we have legal protection to prohibit severe or long-term damage to the environment – for too long it has been overlooked or dismissed in wider decision making because we haven’t seen any real consequences for its destruction. A consultation on a Scottish law on ecocide is very welcome and is a critical step to addressing the climate and nature crises, by underlining our responsibility to look after the planet we depend on.’
Chair of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
The consultation opened yesterday (08 November) and runs for 14 weeks until 09 February 2024.