Globalisation - Enviromental Crime

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  • Green criminology often ignored in criminology
  • Zahn (1992)
  • Deforestation of the Brazilian rain forests tripled between 1980 and 1995
  • Pollution of rivers and oceans is causing global mass extinctions
  • Particulate pollution annually kills 100,000 people in the USA - four times that of homicide
  • Poll conducted in 1990 - majority of Americans consider environmental crime to be a more serious offense than heroin smuggling - yet only 4% of existing criminology programs in the USA give and environmental crime course
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  • Environmental crime = an unauthorized act or omission that violates the law and is therefore subject to criminal prosecution and criminal sanctions (Situ and Emmons, 2000)
  • Three Elements -
  • 1) Violation of existing environmental laws
  • 2)  Two victims – people and the environment
  • 3) Corporate (the majority) but also individual, organized crime and governmental offenders
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Carabinne et al (2009)

Primary green crime: air pollution, deforestation, species decline and animal rights, water pollution

Secondary green crime: 

  • Two major categories
  • 1) Wildlife crime
  •  poaching, trafficking, possession of protected plants or animals
  •  lucrative for one reason - demand 
  • 2) Pollution crime
  •  illegal handling, transport, trading, and disposal of hazardous wastes. •
  • pillaging and degradation of land and communities •
  • ecological damage
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Theoretical frameworks

White (2008)

Environmental rights and environmental justice: sees environmental rights as an extension of human or social rights - aim is to improve quality of human life - "intergenerational responsibility" toward future generations 

Ecological citizenship and ecological justice: sees humans as 1 part of a complex system which should be preserved for its own sake - works on a global level - defines environmental harm in relation to ecological harm - focusing on the destructive capabilities of humans

Animal rights and species justice: focus on anti-discrimination, see non-humans as having rights too - humans have duty of care - focuses on animal abuse 

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Types of Corporate Environmental Damage

  • Can be deliberate, accidental or unintended e.g. pollution – including "upset" events: equipment breakdowns, malfunctions, and other non-routine occurrences
  • Disposal of toxic waste – illegal dumping and permit breaches
  • Misuse of environmental resources
  • Damage to local communities
  • Poor environmental practices 
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Corporate Enviromental Responsibility Landscape (C

  • CSR = Corporate Social Responsibility

Harris (2011) Corporations may adopt CSR/CER for a variety of reasons

  • Acting ethically is the right way for the company to behave
  • Doing what is right and fair is expected of an organisation
  • Acting ethically is in the organisation’s best interest
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Green washing

  • Greenpeace (n.d) - “the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service”
  • (Misuse of) Constructive compliance – e.g. Sustainability reporting as a tool to appear compliant with regulation
  • Creative Compliance - Circumventing and undermining legal regulation through corporate environmental reporting

Numerous ways practices can fail

  • Difference of opinion between stakeholders and the corporation about what is required
  • Corporate culture that prizes success over compliance
  • The value of profit and minimizing costs over compliance
  • Poor enforcement and inadequate penalties for noncompliance
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Oil Spills in the Niger Delta

  • Official estimates suggest 4.1 million barrels of oil spilled in the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon disaster
  • Estimates suggest 9 to 11 million barrels spilled in the Niger Delta in the 50 years of oil production
  • Independent estimates suggest at least 115,000 barrels (15,000 tons) spilled on average each year making the Niger Delta one of the most oil-impacted ecosystems in the world
  • Decades of oil exploration in the Niger Delta - resulted in pollution of much of the region’s vegetation, fishponds and drinking water

Problems include:

  • oil spills and gas flaring
  • contamination of the local environment and resultant impact on fishing and livelihoods inadequate clean-up  
  • lowering of life expectancy (now under 50 years in Ogoniland)
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Globalisation and Risk

  • Globalisation because: clear that environmental dangers are no respecters of national boundaries e.g. climate change affects everyone
  • Risk because: in modern world there are hosts of "risk" - people who are affecting the climate - product of human technological developments
  • Beck (1992) advances in knowledge and the creation of new technologies that were once used to improve and maintain our futures are now also a considerable threat to our well-being
  • Beck distinguishes between external risk - associated with nature" - e.g. infectious                                                  1) external risk - associated with nature" - e.g. infectious diseases, poor harvests, floods etc                                                                                                                                                                          2) manufactured risks - created by the impact of our developing knowledge on the world - consequences of human actions include new sources of risk and uncertainty - e.g. pollution, nuclear power etc.
  • "External risks" less threatening than "manufactured risks"
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Relationship between humans and their environment

Halsey and White (1998) identify 3 primary concepts of the relationship between humans and their environment

1) anthropocentrism - a perspective that emphasises the importance of humans over all other living things - assumes that the environment is there to serve human needs - LINKS TO ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

2) biocentrism - all living creatures are of equal worth - humans therefore should be concerned with the ways in which environmental resource are utilised and affect all species - LINKS TO ECOLOGICAL JUSTICE

3) ecocentrism - all species and the rest of the natural world involved in a complex interdependent system - environmental sustainability as important as human survival and the survival of other species - LINKS TO SPECIES JUSTICE

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  • illegal harvesting of timber 
  • illegal transportation of timber and other materials
  • illegal export and import of goods
  • Brazilian Amazon - by 2001 about 20% of the total forest area had been cleared
  • Boekhout van Solinge (2010) - conflicts and human right violations are common in the Brazilian amazon - all kinds of crimes are connected to deforestation - Brazilian amazon is vast area with low population - low government presence - low surveillance - low levels of law enforcement
  • dramatic impact on climate change - working conditions similar to slavery - very significant effects on huge numbers of animal and plant species
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