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EU criminalises environmental damage ‘comparable to ecocide’


Directive punishes most serious cases of environmental damage, including habitat loss and illegal logging

A image that the environment NGO Agent Green says is evidence of large-scale deforestation and habitat degradation in the Cindrel mountains of Romania. Photograph: Agent Green/AP

The European Union has become the first international body to criminalise wide-scale environmental damage “comparable to ecocide”.

Late on Thursday, lawmakers agreed an update to the bloc’s environmental crime directive punishing the most serious cases of ecosystem destruction, including habitat loss and illegal logging, with tougher penalties.

Marie Toussaint, a French lawyer and MEP heading EU efforts to criminalise ecocide, said the decision “marks the end of impunity for environmental criminals” and could usher in a new age of environmental litigation in Europe.

The environmental crime directive will be formally passed in the spring, and member states will then have two years to put it into national law.

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