Driven to Crime to Save the Planet

Categories: social, governance

What? For the first time, a U.S. court considered evidence on whether ‘the threat of climate change’ is a justifiable defense for criminal acts. The case involved five activists who faced charges of trespassing and obstruction in relation to their actions to block train shipments of crude oil and coal. The activists’ legal defense, known as the ‘necessity defense’, claims that they were driven to break the law in order to deter catastrophic harm to the planet.  Although the ‘necessity defense’ was ultimately rejected, the judge praised the activists as “part of the solution” to climate change.

So what? By allowing climate experts and activists to testify to their personal experience which shows that they had exhausted all other legal alternatives to prevent the catastrophic harm, it would appear that the efficacy of democracy and government is being challenged. The climate movement’s legal strategy (arguing that the legal system should also protect the rights of future generations) could set a legal precedent in this area and create greater demand for public and private accountability towards future generations.

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Date modified

2018-09-14