Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro was accused Tuesday of "crimes against humanity" at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in the destruction of the Amazon, the first case seeking to explicitly link deforestation to loss of life.Planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions from burning and industrial-scale agriculture in the Amazon are higher than the total annual emissions of Italy or Spain. Deforestation in the region already releases more CO2 than the rest of the Amazon can absorb.
Austrian environmental justice campaigners Allrise filed the official complaint at The Hague-based court Tuesday morning. They asked for legal proceedings against Bolsonaro and his administration for actions "directly connected to the negative impacts of climate change around the world". The complaint accuses the Brazilian leader of waging a widespread campaign resulting in the murder of environmental defenders and of endangering the global population through emissions caused by deforestation.
It harnesses the growing field of climate attribution science, which allows researchers to prove a link between extreme weather events, on the one hand, and global heating and environmental degradation, on the other. The team behind it said that Bolsonaro's administration had sought to "systematically remove, neuter, and eviscerate laws, agencies and individuals that serve to protect the Amazon".
The team of experts estimated that emissions attributable to the Bolsonaro administration due to rampant deforestation will cause over 180,000 excess heat-related deaths globally this century. "In the last few years, climate science has come a long way in being able to provide evidence of specific causal relationships between emissions of greenhouse gases and the consequences that arrive globally as a result," Rupert Stuart Smith, from the University of Oxford's Sustainable Law Program, told AFP.