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May 15, 2018 / C H Thompson

Green crime – revision notes with evaluative points

Problems trying to police green crimes:

  • The problem with defining green crime is that there are very few local or international laws governing the state of the environment.
  • International laws are difficult to construct as not all countries agree to sign up to global agreements
  • Many green crimes are undertaken by states themselves, the very people supposed to be policing environmental harm – links to state crimes
  • As discussed above in transgressive criminology, different countries have different laws, and so a harmful act committed in one country may not be considered illegal in another country, meaning prosecutions may be unlikely to take place.
  • Laws that exists are shaped by powerful capitalist interests, especially global big businesses – links to globalisation
  • Governments in developing countries are not likely to take action against transnational corporations as they are dependent on them for their income – links to globalisation
  • Laws that exist to protect the environment are often weak, and there is no international police force

Evaluation of green crimes

(+) Recognises the growing importance of environmental issues and global risks

(+) recognises human interdependence with other species and the environment, and that we depend on the environment to survive

(-) the theory focuses on harm rather than criminality, meaning that green crime is accused of being engaged with a subjective interpretation rather than an objective analysis, therefore it is biased

(-) Marxists see green crime as an expression of power. The ruling class shape and define the law just to benefit their own exploitative interests on the environment and so can ensure that the enforcement on environmental crime is weak. These laws then benefit transnational corporations, and ensure that white collar crime is uneasily detected

Positivists want to see sociology as a science with objective definitions but we are unable to measure and test harm as it is open to interpretation.

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