An introduction to environmental criminology

Environmental criminology emerges as a crucial field of study focused on environmental crimes and broader damages to the environment, adopting a “green” perspective towards ecological justice, environmental legislation, and criminality that affects both the natural environment and non-human species. This interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach challenges traditional anthropocentric views of criminal justice, proposing a framework where justice systems protect not only human interests but also those of the environment and other species.

A wake-up call in Environmental Criminology

As an umbrella term, environmental criminology brings together various perspectives and theoretical and ideological conceptions, concerned with the neglect of ecological issues within traditional criminological discipline. Lynch and Stretesky highlight the importance of steering criminology towards solving global environmental problems, criticizing the discipline’s failure to perceive the severity of environmental damage and the need for a shift in focus.

State and corporate crime

A central aspect of environmental criminology is its focus on the accountability of states and corporations in environmental protection and associated damages when these entities fail to meet their obligations. The commodification of natural resources, like water, by states and corporations, often leading to the exploitation of fundamental human rights, is highlighted as a form of environmental crime requiring critical attention.

Crimes against flora and fauna

The issue of wildlife crimes, especially the illegal trafficking of species and the unlawful killing of animals in agricultural and livestock areas, represents another main focus of environmental criminology. This field of study examines the conflict between the needs of rural communities and conservation and animal protection ideologies, exploring how animal protection laws and community attitudes towards hunting impact justice for species.

Preventing and disrupting environmental crimes

Beyond analyzing environmental damages and existing justice mechanisms, environmental criminology seeks to promote preventive and disruptive approaches to avoid environmental damages before they occur. This includes exploring restorative justice approaches and mediation to provide justice to both human and non-human victims of environmental crimes, as well as advocating for multi-agency collaboration to combat the multidimensional nature of environmental crimes.

In summary, environmental criminology represents a critical call to reevaluate and expand traditional criminological perspectives to include the protection of the environment and non-human species within the realm of justice. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this discipline challenges existing structures and proposes new ways of understanding and addressing environmental crimes and damages.