By Marjorie Cohn
When President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, he acted in concert with 22 Republican senators, who collectively receive $10,694,284 in contributions from the coal and oil industries.
These 22 senators wrote to Trump, asking him to pull out of the accord. The president and the senators put their own political and economic interests above the safety, security and indeed survival of the American people and the entire planet.
https://twitter.com/SierraClub/statuses/871079050051190784 could add up to 3 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere on an annual basis.”
If the climate continues to change at a rapid rate, society itself will be injured. As the glaciers melt and the oceans swell, the land will recede. Crops will die. Mosquitos will increasingly carry diseases. The Earth will be hit with massive floods, devastating heat waves and drought. Polar bears will become extinct. People will lose their lands, their homes and their lives. Indeed, life as we know it will come to an end.
“To refuse to act against global warming is to condemn thousands of people to death and suffering today and millions more tomorrow. This is murder,” Mark Hertsgaard wrote in The Nation.
A Crime Against Humanity
Moreover, by withdrawing the U.S. from the climate accord, Trump has committed a crime against humanity, which also constitutes a high crime.
Trump has been aided and abetted in his crime against humanity by the following 22 GOP Senators: Inhofe (Oklahoma), Barrasso (Wyoming), McConnell (Kentucky), Cornyn (Texas), Blunt (Missouri), Wicker (Mississippi), Enzi (Wyoming), Crapo (Idaho), Risch (Idaho), Cochran (Mississippi), Rounds (South Dakota), Paul (Kentucky), Boozman (Arkansas), Shelby (Alabama), Strange (Alabama), Hatch (Utah), Lee (Utah), Cruz (Texas), Perdue (Georgia), Tillis (North Carolina), Scott (South Carolina) and Roberts (Kansas).
Crimes against humanity can be committed even without a state of war. The Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court (ICC) defines crimes against humanity as “inhumane acts … intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.” They must be “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.”
Since taking office, Trump has mounted a methodical assault on the people of the U.S. He has systematically endeavored to destroy the social safety net, including the rights to healthcare, public education and a clean environment, as well as the rights of workers, immigrants, women and LGBTQ people.
By withdrawing from the climate agreement and refusing to shoulder the nation’s share of responsibility for slowing climate change, Trump has intentionally committed an inhumane act that will ultimately cause great suffering to the people of the world.
Although the ICC cannot directly prosecute and try climate crimes, the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC said in a policy paper last year that it would construe crimes against humanity more broadly to include “destruction of the environment” and make prosecution of those crimes a priority.
According to the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA), a new nonprofit established to support the ICC prioritization of environmental crimes, “Climate crimes are criminal activities that result in, or are associated with, the emission of significant amounts of greenhouse gases (GHG). The CCCA does not aim to criminalize GHG emissions per se. Most emissions are legal. However, a significant share of GHG emissions results from, or is associated with, conduct that violates existing criminal law.”
The CCA notes, “Climate crimes are often intertwined with other serious international crimes. As a result of this link, as well through their impact on climate change, climate crimes may represent a threat to international peace and security and potentially affect all of humankind and the very foundations of civilization.”
Richard Harvey, a specialist in international criminal and environmental law, told Truthout, “Given what the ICC prosecutor and the Center for Climate Crime Analysis consider environmental crimes against humanity, Trump’s attempt to renege on this international agreement is a clear invitation to his Big Carbon cronies to continue policies designed to consign humanity to the greenhouse gas chamber. Is that conspiracy to commit a crime against humanity? You be the judge.”
By pulling out of the climate accord, Trump “makes himself guilty of what looks like a grave crime against humanity, the planet Earth, and future generations,” Uffe Elbæk, former Danish minister of culture and leader of Denmark’s Green Party, said.
Tom Engelhardt at TomDispatch calls the “system of destruction on a planetary scale … the ultimate ‘crime against humanity.'” He writes, “It is becoming a ‘terracide.'”
The House of Representatives Should Impeach Trump
It takes 51 percent of the House of Representatives to impeach the president. Republicans control a majority of the seats in the House. But imperiling the planet should not be a partisan issue.
The fact that virtually every other country in the world, as well as U.S. states and cities, corporations and activists worldwide are taking steps on their own to slow the changing climate does not absolve Trump from his crime.
It is incumbent upon the House of Representatives to vote for the impeachment of Trump.
Meanwhile, we must, and will, continue to build the global climate justice movement.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Truthout.