Visionaries: Polly Higgins
1st April 2009
‘The planet is currently enslaved to humans abusing its inherent rights – the right not to be enslaved or polluted,’ says environmentalist and barrister Polly Higgins.
The law is not a perfect tool, but it gives great scope for us to change it. Law gives you the tools to go and fight.
After years of fighting other people’s battles, Higgins is taking the Earth on as a client. Last November, she presented her call for a Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights at the United Nations UK & Northern Ireland Climate Change Conference.
‘I realised that it’s not just about addressing the UN,’ she says. ‘I then had to make it happen.’ So she set up the Trees Have Rights Too campaign to promote and build the cause. The campaign is gaining support ‘at a political and legal level. The door is opening. It just needs to be pushed.’
‘Nobody is representing the planet at the post-2012 Kyoto negotiating table. Until we uphold planetary rights we are but tweaking at the corners. Until we stop pollution at source, no amount of offsetting, carbon crediting or carbon capture and storage will solve the problem.’
It’s a radical, expansive, all-encompassing vision. If implemented it would mean the end of the world’s most powerful industries: oil, coal, logging and concrete.
At the moment, a corporation (an ‘abstract entity’) has more power and rights than the tree it fells or the air that it...
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