In a speech in Holland this afternoon, ecologist lawyer Polly Higgins has announced that three individuals have been accused of Ecocide - two executives of Shell including CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Buerden and one Dutch government minister.
In a Facebook live broadcast this afternoon, she announced that "industrial activity has occurred in the knowledge that such activity is dangerous"
"Shell has been put on notice. A legal notice of intent has been served by Friends of the Earth in Holland"
Polly Higgins address today
Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes, the CEO of Royal Dutch Shell Ben van Beurden and the CEO of Shell Netherlands Marjan van Loon were today identified as principal suspects in an independent preliminary examination into the potential crime of climate ecocide
At a special event in the Hague accompanying the annual Assembly of States Parties to the International Criminal Court, UK barrister and internationally renowned ecocide law expert, Polly Higgins announced that independent investigative work has already commenced.
“The examination shall scrutinise evidence suggesting that Shell, a Carbon Major and one of the largest investor owned carbon producers in the world, knew that significant adverse impacts arise from their activities. Crucially, evidence has come to light to suggest that the public has been misled over a lengthy period of more than 30 years, and such evidence could amount to a crime.”
Ms Higgins said: "The fact that ecocide occurs during peacetime does not make it any less of an atrocity, or any less of a crime. We live in an age where the consequences of dangerous industrial activity are long-term, transboundary and can be felt on the other side of the world.”
“Climate negotiations are silent on the potential criminality of state and corporate activity. This is despite the fact that the most recent IPCC report asserts that ‘limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes’ to prevent climate catastrophe. With climate crime, what has to be established is whether there is a dereliction of a duty of care as well as a missing state responsibility to protect the public from dangerous industrial activity and its consequences. Hurricanes will not wait whilst we endlessly vacillate over unenforceable pledges.”
The International Criminal Court (ICC) welcomes communications filed by individuals. The present examination goes beyond the threshold ICC requirements, to determine additionally whether there is sufficient evidence to satisfy the elements of a crime of ecocide and if so whether, on the evidence, there are grounds to trigger the rapid establishment of ecocide as an atrocity crime. Findings shall be subject to the same stringent conditions and rigorous scrutiny as required by official ICC procedures.
“I look forward to publicly reporting our findings,” said Ms Higgins. “If the evidence shows that industrial activity known to exacerbate climate breakdown has been permitted to continue, then both the Dutch government minister and Shell’s senior officers could be held responsible for pervasive impacts on the world’s population at large, including the systemic and widespread collapse of ecosystems.”
Feature image : Ben Van Beurden