It has recently come to light in the United States that right-wing groups have penned Project 25 — a plan to dismantle American climate policy if Republicans win future elections. On the first anniversary of the game-changing Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration continues to approve new oil and gas projects.

United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Tory government have recently issued licences for hundreds of new oil and gas projects in the North Sea.

It is time to start viewing this behaviour as a manifestation of ecocide.

Ecocide is the deliberate or neglectful destruction of the natural environment, often with irreversible impacts. A panel of legal experts is trying to have ecocide recognized as “the fifth crime” at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Rome Statute, which established the ICJ, recognizes four crimes: genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. Scholars of genocide increasingly recognize the links between ecocide and genocide as the global ecological crisis deepens.

At home in Canada, the Trudeau government allowed the Bay du Nord project to move through the environmental assessment process in 2022. Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault clung to the 137 conditions that the project would have to meet in justifying the approval. Bay du Nord has not yet been sanctioned by Norwegian oil giant Equinor and the company has announced a delay of up to three years for the project.

Our federal government ignored the reality that there is no carbon budget left for new oil exploration, development or production. Certainly, this is the case if we’re going to keep global warming to the 1.5 C threshold recommended by scientists. This seems increasingly impossible.

The International Energy Agency has provided us with a pathway to net zero by 2050. A key component of the plan is no new oil and gas projects. That also means no exploration and no development, which are high-emitting activities.

While the Global South has long suffered the consequences of climate change, the heat waves and wildfires have also reached our continent. It was impossible for American news outlets to ignore the Canadian wildfire smoke that covered New York City in June.

It’s time to accept that the Global North has reached the ecocide-genocide nexus. Our long history of colonialism and genocide is now ecocidal, writes Lori Lee Oates.

Al Jazeera has long argued that we need to see the costs of climate change to residents of the Global South as a kind of hidden climate change finance as they pay to replace homes and infrastructure in areas such as Bangladesh.

Notably, citizens of the Global South are not the people who create most of the greenhouse gas emissions that power climate change. Canadians produce some of the highest per-capita levels of emissions in the world. This means Canadians have a lot of room to move in adopting a lower-carbon lifestyle.

Canada is a continually bad actor on the global stage, despite protests that Justin Trudeau is ruining the oilsands. Drawing on research from Quebec's French-language newspaper Le Devoir, the New Democratic Party has argued Trudeau has been kinder to Big Oil than Stephen Harper ever was. He has also been crueller to the most vulnerable. In 2020, as financial experts were recommending a green recovery, Canada responded by supporting oil at 10 times the G20 average.

Climate justice scholars argue that climate change is environmental discrimination and racial injustice because the worst health impacts of climate change have fallen on jurisdictions such as Puerto Rico and Pakistan.

However, this year has been a record summer for wildfires in Canada. In 2022, tropical storm Fiona destroyed homes and killed one woman in western Newfoundland. The world is at 1.2 C of global warming now. What do you think Canada is going to look like at 1.5 C?

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has reported that climate change threatens national prosperity and security. This is especially true in British Columbia and Atlantic Canada. This country will have its own sacrifice zones as climate change progresses.

Scientists report that this summer’s heat waves in the United States and Europe would have been virtually impossible without climate change. The European heat waves of 2022 have been linked to 61,000 deaths.

Research has shown that 8.7 million people globally died from fossil fuel pollution in 2018. One-in-five deaths across the planet was attributed to the burning of fossil fuels. This was much higher than previous research suggested.

I would ask how did we get to this point in which we have so little regard for human life? How did people become so dispensable in the pursuit of economic growth? Of course, colonialism, extractive capitalism and racism have been the foundation of modern society since Columbus landed in the Bahamas in 1492 and claimed it for Spain.

It’s time to accept that the Global North has reached the ecocide-genocide nexus. Our long history of colonialism and genocide is now ecocidal.

We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.

Lori Lee Oates is an instructor in the Department of Sociology at Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador. She is also a member of the editorial board of the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). Her current research explores the imperial roots of the climate crisis and the political economy of oil.

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It seems most governments are playing on both sides of the fence and need to get off the fence and pick a side. I have little faith that governments are really serious about climate change. Governments continue to promote and grow the fossil fuel industry, rather than pushing for more green solutions.

In line with almost all climate-related coverage in this year of the hottest July ever, this article affirms what we need to now proclaim: not only oil/gas companies responsibility for ecocide but their culpability for crimes against humanity. What else can one call willful acts over decades, knowing the consequences, to promote the growth of GHG to levels that are now causing drought, fires, floods, sea level rises, etc. etc. that are killing hundreds of thousands, impoverishing many more and forcing millions to migrate from their homes, feeding political upheaval and hate? These willful acts are crimes against humanity and need to be prosecuted as such.

Great, you've invented a new insult word for those who want to keep oil. We didn't know they were bad, before the new word.
I once had a guy in a forum call me an "anthrocide" because I wasn't against a pipeline (my point being that we need carbon for a while longer, to build all that green tech), and when I pointed out that we already had "genocide" and he wasn't adding anything, he wrote back to congratulate himself on what a great new word it was, for me. I was happy for him, able to make himself happy with a new insult word.

But if I could direct a kid towards a study, it would be chemistry, for batteries and industrial processes like cement and ammonia, or engineering, for electrical systems. Those people are needed to save the world. A new word to "get us going" is not. Every NP reader is already on side, and reading this article was just to make them feel fuzzy about their years-old choice.

I disagree. The way we frame things is important, and being precise about what continued oil and gas exploration is may be helpful as we all learn to communicate the issue as forcefully as possible. Ten years into climate activism, I'm constantly learning about better ways to describe things that will make people think and, hopefully, to join the climate justice movement.