07 Sep ECOCIDE
This article covers “Daily Current Affairs,” and the Topic details “ECOCIDE”. The Topic “ECOCIDE” has relevance in the Environment section of the UPSC CSE exam.
GS 3: Environment
Global Status of Ecocide Laws?
Status in India:
Why in the news:
Mexico is contemplating enacting a law that would classify ecocide as a criminal offense.
- Ecocide signifies the detrimental impact of human actions on the environment, leading to extensive destruction.
Examples of Ecocide:
- Environmental Destruction: Acts of ecocide encompass a wide range of activities, including port expansion projects, deforestation, illegal sand mining, river pollution, and the release of untreated sewage. These actions harm delicate ecosystems and disrupt local livelihoods.
- Notable Instances: Prominent instances of ecocide include deforestation during the Vietnam War, environmental damage during the Russian invasion of Ukraine, deforestation in Indonesia and the Amazon rainforest, oil pollution in the Niger Delta, and the Chernobyl disaster.
- Olof Palme’s Influence: The term “ecocide” gained prominence when Swedish politician Olof Palme accused the United States of committing ecocide at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment.
- Species Extinction Threat: Predictions suggest that over a third of the world’s plant and animal species could face extinction by 2050, signaling a severe ecological crisis.
- Extreme Weather Events: Unprecedented heatwaves have shattered records globally, exacerbating climate-related challenges.
- Disrupted Climate Patterns: Changing rainfall patterns have disrupted natural flood and drought cycles, intensifying environmental hazards.
- Avoiding Environmental Catastrophes: The implementation of ecocide laws could have averted environmental catastrophes such as Amazon deforestation, deep-sea trawling, and the tragic 1984 Bhopal gas disaster.
- Environmental Justice: Ecocide laws also serve as instruments of justice, particularly for low- and middle-income countries disproportionately affected by climate change, providing them with legal recourse.
Global Status of Ecocide Laws:
- Criminalization in 11 Countries: Currently, ecocide is recognized as a crime in 11 countries, reflecting the growing recognition of the need to protect the environment.
- 27 Countries in Consideration: An additional 27 countries are contemplating the introduction of laws to criminalize environmentally destructive activities that deliberately harm humans, animals, and plants.
- Examples of Legislation: Countries like Vietnam, Ukraine, and Russia have already criminalized ecocide. Furthermore, the European Parliament penalizes actions including “mass destruction of flora and fauna,” “atmosphere or water resource poisoning,” and “deliberate acts capable of causing ecological disasters.”
Status in India:
Legal Recognition of Nature:
- Rivers as Legal Entities: Indian courts have affirmed the legal personhood of nature by recognizing rivers as legal entities with intrinsic rights, including the right to preserve their essence, identity, and integrity.
- The inception of the Concept: While not yet a mainstream legal doctrine, the concept of recognizing nature’s rights is gaining traction in India’s legal landscape.
Notable Judgments and Legal References:
- Chandra CFS and Terminal Operators Pvt. Ltd. v. The Commissioner of Customs and Ors (2015): The Madras High Court acknowledged the ongoing activities that could be categorised as ecocide, particularly the uncontrolled removal of valuable timber resources.
- T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union of India & Ors (Ongoing Case): The Supreme Court, in an ongoing case, criticized the “anthropogenic bias” in environmental considerations. It argued for a shift from an anthropocentric perspective to an ecocentric one, highlighting the need for environmental justice.
Environmental Laws in India:
- Environmental (Protection) Act 1986: This act serves as a foundational piece of environmental legislation in India, focusing on protecting and improving the environment.
- Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 safeguards wildlife and their habitats.
- Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act (CAMPA) 2016: CAMPA addresses afforestation and forest conservation issues.
- Rules for Pollution Prevention: India has established separate rules to combat air and water pollution, emphasizing the importance of environmental preservation.
Q.1 Consider the following statements regarding ecocide:
- Ecocide refers to the deliberate actions causing substantial and lasting harm to the environment.
- India has fully incorporated the concept of ecocide into its legal framework.
- The term “ecocide” gained prominence at the 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment.
How many of the above statement/s is/are correct?
(a) Only one
(b) Only two
(c) All three
Q.2 Who among the following has popularised the term ‘ecocide’?
(a) Olof Palme
(b) Greta Thunberg
(c) David Brower
(d) M. S. Swaminathan
Q.3 Discuss the concept of ecocide and its significance in the context of environmental protection and justice. Evaluate the existing legal frameworks and international perspectives on ecocide.