It’s been a highly hectic couple of days. I’ve taken on an urgent job with the business, which kept me away from this blog yesterday. And last night saw the second Ashlyns Lecture. We were very lucky that the lucid and stirring Polly Higgins came to Berkhamsted. She may just have started something.
After setting up a vague horse-shoe of blue plastic chairs at Ashlyns School in the early evening, delivering my co-chair-re-arranger Trevor home, rushing around printing off the list of pre-bookees, I got back to the venue to find our star speaker was already enjoying a plate of the most delicious vegetarian food I’ve ever tasted. I didn’t eat Polly’s, no, I had a plate of my own. Thank you Parul, look forward to seeing you on Masterchef one day.
Doors opened at 7pm, and the steady stream started from the off. Food was bought, and it seemed that every other person who arrived hadn’t pre-booked. We’d not put enough chairs out. From pre-bookings of 77, we ended up with a very full hall of 130 enthusiastic folk, waiting to be inspired. They were very much not disappointed.
After an introduction from our very own Emma, Polly took to the floor. Without notes or slides, she let her trained barrister skills, natural charisma and deep understanding of her subject flood forward and wash over us. We surfed the rolling waves of her talk as she expertly balanced between emotion and logic.
We heard how, while she was overseeing an injury claim in the courts, she realised that outside there was a neglected and huge victim, laying seemingly passively outside her window. She decided to become the lawyer for the Earth.
That lead her to endeavour to introduce Ecocide as an international crime against Peace, within the Rome statute alongside genocide and war-crimes. It lead her to find out that Ecocide, the intentional destruction of eco-systems, was originally written into those very same international laws when they were first considered in 1972. It lead her to the incredible realisation that they had been dropped suddenly, with unpublicised and secretive discussions at the UN. Three countries had successfully lobbied to have the laws removed in 1996.
Those countries? The United States of America. The Netherlands. And the United Kingdom. In 1996. Under Sir John Major as Prime Minister.
The law can and should be passed. There are 121 countries signed up to make it so. All that is needed for it to be tabled is for one of those countries to put it forward. To do so, they need a mandate from their people.
So it is now our job to create that mandate.
Stroud recently formed Stroud Wants Ecocide Law. Other something like that. Spells SWEL. So we may form B-WEL. Berkhamsted Wants Ecocide Law.
If in 1996 Ecocide had been made a crime, as it rightfully should, the rainforests of the world would now be expanding, the tar-sands in Canada would be a pipe-dream and climate change mitigation would be well under way. Without it? What do you think?
It can happen by 2020. It could happen sooner.