A legal duty of care for the Earth

Further Reading:

Eradicating Ecocide
by Polly Higgins

Earth is Our Business
by Polly Higgins

Fifteen years ago Polly Higgins abandoned her career as a barrister to campaign for an international crime of ecocide. Sadly she died of cancer on Easter Sunday at the early age of 50.

Her aim in making ecocide an international crime was to enable people like company chief executives and government ministers to be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for causing or contributing to large-scale ecosystem destruction.

In her research on the subject she discovered that the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC, had originally included the crime of ecocide, but that it had been dropped at the final drafting stage. She set out to see that this “missing” crime was reinstated alongside genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression, and submitted a proposal to the UN Law Commission in 2010 that defined ecocide as “extensive loss, damage to or destruction of ecosystems of a given territory, such that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been or will be severely diminished”.

Polly’s first book, Eradicating Ecocide: Laws and Governance to Prevent the Destruction of Our Planet (2010), won the 2010-11 People’s Book Prize and set out her full proposal, while her second book, Earth Is Our Business (2012), included a draft Ecocide Act and indictments that had been used in a mock trial in the UK Supreme Court with Michael Mansfield QC prosecuting. Read the full obituary in the Guardian.

Overcoming Poverty

In Progress and Poverty Henry George sought the ‘cause of industrial depressions and the increase of want with the increase of wealth’ and offered a ‘remedy’ which remains as relevant to the problems of poverty and inequality we face today, as when he first wrote, but it also opens a new way of dealing with environmental pollution.

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Tony Blair initiative to solve housing crisis

The Observer (3rd Dec) revealed a new initiative to tackle the housing crisis from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. Blair is proposing that council tax and business rates, which are currently based on the value of the site and any building or improvement on it, be replaced by a tax which relates solely to the value of the land under the buildings, arguing that it is a “fairer and more rational system of property taxation”.

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“You can become wealthy by creating wealth or by appropriating the wealth created by other people. When the appropriation of the wealth is illegal it is called theft or fraud. When it is legal economists call it rent-seeking”

John Kay, Financial Times 27th Dec 2009

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, they cannot save the few who are rich.”

John F Kennedy, Inaugural Speech, Jan 1961

“If science is defined by its ability to forecast the future, the failure of much of the economics profession to see the crisis coming should be a cause for great concern”

Joseph Stiglitz

“Today we live in a world that is divided. A world in which we have made great progress and advances in science and technology. But it is also a world where millions of children die because they have no access to medicines… It is a world of great promise and hope. It is also a world of despair, disease and hunger”

Nelson Mandela


How Our Economy Really Works

How Our Economy Really Works– Why are so many trapped in poverty, when others are grossly well-off?
– Why are house prices continuously rising faster than inflation?
– Why do people so often find themselves in jobs that give them little sense of fulfilment?
– Why is a multi-national coffee shop franchise not actually making its money from coffee?
These questions have confronted the UK economy for decades without resolution by governments of the right or left. It is the failure of economics, the author argues.

ISBN 9780856835292 | Price: £9.95