The government will create an “ecocide offense” to punish environmental damage

An “ecocide offense” aimed at preventing and punishing serious damage to the environment, derived from a proposal from the Citizen’s Climate Convention, will be created, announced on Sunday the Minister of Ecological Transition and the Guardian of Seals.

In a joint interview with the JDD, Eric Dupont-Moretti and Barbara Pompili detail this new offense and not a crime as the 150 citizens of the Climate Convention had wished. “The citizen enthusiasm that has been expressed must be followed by a legal translation in the penal code”, justifies the Minister of Justice, arguing a problem of constitutionality with regard to the word “crime”.

“We are going to create a general pollution offense. The penalties will be modulated according to the intention of the perpetrator. The penalties incurred range from three years ‘imprisonment to ten years’ imprisonment depending on whether one is in the presence of an offense of recklessness, of a manifestly deliberate breach of an obligation and the heaviest, of an intentional breach, “reports Eric Dupont-Moretti.

The fines, which are intended to be dissuasive, will range from 375,000 to 4.5 million euros. “In the past you polluted, you won, tomorrow you will pollute, you will pay up to ten times the profit you would have made if you had thrown your waste into the river”, assures the Keeper of the Seals.

A second offense of “endangering the environment” should also emerge. Unlike the first, the sanctions may apply even when the pollution has not yet taken place, the Ministry of Ecological Transition told AFP.

“The text aims to penalize the deliberate endangerment of the environment by deliberate violations of an obligation”, underlines Mr. Dupond-Moretti in the JDD. The penalty is one year in prison and a 100,000 euros fine.

“It is in fact the translation, in precise legal terms, of what the historical promoters of the recognition of ecocide were asking for,” assures Ms. Pompili.

At the same time as these announcements, the Minister of Justice clarified the outlines, drawn by his predecessor Nicole Belloubet, of the reorganization of justice, including the creation of specialized environmental courts, to deal with these new crimes.

“In each court of appeal, there will be a specialized court with jurisdiction both in civil matters, for compensation for damage for example, and in criminal matters,” he explains.

The Citizen’s Climate Convention was established in October 2019 at the request of the then Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe. It brought together 150 citizens drawn by lot with the aim of proposing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She offered 149 to Emmanuel Macron, who pledged to take back 146.

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