Photo Credit: Bruce Adams/Associated Newspapers
“I think when we look at the damage eating meat is doing to the planet it is not preposterous to think that one day it will become illegal,” British barrister Michael Mansfield said.
This week, Michael Mansfield—a top lawyer recognized by the Queen’s Counsel in Britain—spoke about the devastating environmental effects of animal agriculture at the launch of vegan group Viva!’s new campaign “Vegan Now” during the Labour Party conference in Brighton.
Mansfield explained that “ecocide”—or the willful destruction of the environment as perpetuated by the meat and dairy industries—should be treated as seriously as other forms of widespread injustice.
“There are plenty of things that were once commonplace that are now illegal such as smoking inside,” Mansfield said. “We know that the top 3,000 companies in the world are responsible for more than £1.5 trillion ($1.9 trillion) worth of damage to the environment with meat and dairy production high on the list. We know that because the UN has told us so.”
The Vegan Now campaign will focus on educating the public about the effects of animal agriculture on climate change, habitat destruction, and biodiversity leading up to World Vegan Day on November 1.
“I think when we look at the damage eating meat is doing to the planet it is not preposterous to think that one day it will become illegal,” Mansfield said. “It is time for a new law on ecocide to go alongside genocide and the other crimes against humanity.” SOURCE
Protesters demonstrate outside a Hudbay Minerals annual general meeting in Toronto on June 14, 2012. Hudbay is facing three lawsuits that allege the company was negligent in failing to prevent security personnel from carrying out acts of violence.
Last month, in Vedanta Resources PLC & Another v. Lungowe & Others, the UK Supreme Court allowed Zambian citizens to proceed with a claim in the UK against a UK-based mining company for environmental contamination allegedly caused by its Zambian subsidiary. As our colleague Lee McBride has recently written, this landmark decision will be of particular interest to multinational parent companies headquartered in the UK.
Vedanta should be of interest to Canadian multinationals as well, because the case mirrors an emerging trend in Canadian case law that has seen international plaintiffs permitted to proceed with claims against Canadian parent companies for the allegedly wrongful activity of their foreign subsidiaries.
While these recent cases dealt with claims of human rights abuses with respect to mining operations, the reasoning adopted by the Courts in these cases would likely equally apply to claims arising out of environmental damage caused in a foreign jurisdiction.
…The Canadian cases, which are summarized below, share a number of factors in common with Vedanta. In these cases, the claims:
- Involve direct claims of negligence against the parent company, alleging that they supervised, directed or acquiesced in the wrong committed;
- Argue that the home jurisdiction is not the appropriate forum, due to deficiencies in the domestic legal system; and
- Rely on public statements made by the parent corporation with respect to corporate social responsibility to link the parent company to the alleged foreign wrongs.
The summary of the Canadian cases is followed by some key take-aways for any business that operates internationally through subsidiaries. MORE