By: Sophie McAdam,
British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has called for public support in her effort to make environmental destruction a crime. The eccentric first lady of fashion has urged people to sign an online petition that would force businesses and individuals to take responsibility for ecocidal actions, such as oil spills, high carbon emissions and deforestation. Although at the moment this campaign is focused only on the European Union, a victory in one continent would inevitably cause huge pressure to do the same in Canada, the United States and many more countries around the world.
Westwood doesn´t believe that monetary fines go far enough in deterring huge corporations from destroying the planet, pointing out that many companies simply factor potential fines into their business models- profits from their destructive actions are often well worth the cost of any penalties they face. She stated, as blunt as ever: “Our financial rulers and the politicians who help them are playing a giant game of Monopoly with the world’s finite resources. But you can’t play Monopoly when everybody’s dead.”
The draft directive that the campaign has drawn up includes a broad definition of ecocide, as the “extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been severely diminished; and or peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of another territory has been severely diminished.” This would include the highly controversial practice of fracking, which looks set to go ahead in the UK and other European countries despite widespread protests and huge public opposition.
Under E.U law, any online petition which receives 1m votes by European citizens must be considered by lawmakers. If ecocide were a criminal offense, CEOs could face jail time instead of fines, making them much more likely to think twice about sustainability and conservation over profit. But there is not much time left- the petition closes on 21 January. Please sign and share if you would like corporations to be held responsible!