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Geoethics and Transgenerational Climate Crimes – four examples to hold States and corporations accountable

Is it possible to hold States and corporations accountable for the extractive industry’s transgenerational climate crimes? Answering this question implies the definition of climate crimes in time and space and, for this reason, four case studies will be analyzed to substantiate the critical analysis proposed: the Coalbrook mine disaster in South Africa (1960), the Amoco Cadiz oil spill in France (1978), the Performance Coal Company explosion in the United States (2010), and the Vale-BHP tailing dam collapse in Brazil (2015). Actions that cause climate catastrophe affect individuals and ecosystems beyond jurisdictions in an uncontrolled and incalculable way. The real purpose of the extractive industry must be observed from a geoethical perspective, that is, the extractive industry’s capacity of producing and reproducing life. States and corporations have historically managed the extractive industrial complex regardless and to the detriment of the existence of life in explored territories. This means that States and corporations are accomplices in actions that not only cause the worsening of life conditions in the present time, but also prevent life on the planet to be fostered and preserved. By comparing the alleged benefits and the real harm arising from a geopolitical developmental agenda of global endless industrial extractivism, this paper develops the geoethical possibilities of definition of transgenerational climate crimes departing from four case scenarios and their devastating consequences.


Angelica De Freitas1
1AIC Agencia de Iniciativas Cidadas, Brazil
GeoBerlin 2023