Catalonia initiates legislation to recognise ecocide as a crime

by Lorraine Williamson

BARCELONA – The Catalan Parliament took a significant step on Thursday, presenting a bill that seeks to recognise ecocide as a punishable offence in the Penal Code. 

The objective of this legislation is to address and penalise large-scale, long-term damage or destruction of ecosystems, essentially holding accountable those responsible for severe environmental harm. 

This legislative move stems from a proposal formulated and registered by the far-left Catalan political party, CUP, a few months ago. The initiative has garnered support from Stop Ecocide, the Xarxa per la Justícia Climàtica (a network comprising over 30 organisations and movements, including Observatorio DESC, Ecologistas en Acción, and Entrepueblos), and SETEM Catalonia. 

Endorsement from “Prou Ecocidis” manifest 

Furthermore, 71 Catalan entities have endorsed the “Prou Ecocidis” manifest, expressing their backing for this legislative endeavour. This adds to the extensive list of over 300 organisations, NGOs, and companies that have already pledged their support to the national Stop Ecocide Manifesto. 

Towards a legal definition of ecocide 

On Friday, all political factions within the Parliament shared their stance on the proposed bill. It garnered backing from prominent parties such as Esquerra Republicana (ERC), the Partido de los socialistas de Cataluña (PSC), JuntsxCatalunya, and En Comú Podem. Notably, three interventions cited the legal definition of ecocide, as provided by the Panel of Independent Experts, convened by the Stop Ecocide Foundation two years prior. 

Following several months of deliberations and potential amendments to the proposal, the Catalan Parliament will conduct a final vote. Subsequently, the bill will be presented to the national parliament, which holds the authority to enact criminal laws. 

A step in the right direction 

Maite Mompó, the director of Stop Ecocide Spain, expressed her optimism to Ecoticias, stating, “The initiation of this procedure in the Catalan Parliament to integrate ecocide into the Spanish Penal Code is a commendable move. This positions Spain alongside European and global leaders striving to establish legal frameworks that deter extensive environmental degradation.” 

Dani Corbellà, who championed the proposal in Parliament, conveyed, “We take immense pride in today’s commencement of this process in the Catalan Parliament. A vast parliamentary majority is poised to endorse this throughout its progression.” 

A global movement 

Jojo Mehta, the co-founder and CEO of Stop Ecocide International, highlighted the global momentum, pointing out that similar ecocide bills have been introduced in countries like Brazil, the Netherlands, and Scotland in recent times. She emphasised the inevitability of ecocide’s criminalisation, foreseeing its universal acceptance as an essential legal measure shortly. 

Related: Spanish government points to the danger of extremism in the ecological transition 

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