Environmental Victims: Challenges for Criminology and Victimology in the 21st Century
This paper addresses the issue of ‘environmental victimisation’ (harm to individuals suffered as a result of environmentally damaging activities) and asks what role criminologists in general and vicitmologists in particular will have to play as our understanding of the consequence of climate change and other environmental degradation develops still further.
The paper draws on a social harms approach to argue for an extended definition of such victimisation, beyond restrictive legal categories.
Clear parallels are demonstrated between the subjects of ‘green criminology’ with more ‘mainstream’ victimological and criminological developments (in the academy and in policy making circles internationally). This demonstrates the relevance of ‘environmental harm’ to existing and long-standing debates talking place in both areas, including those concerning the nature of victimisation and the responsibilities of the state to those victimised. The argument is illustrated through a discussion of various classifications of environmental harm, including harm to health, security, the economy, social and cultural impacts and the unequal distribution of such impacts around the world and between different socioeconomic groups.
The implications of the paper are that a great deal more research needs to be carried out by criminologists and victimologists on the subject of ‘environmental; harm’, and indeed these scholars are likely to be increasingly approached for views/data on this issue in the coming years. Such developments therefore need to be recognised by funding bodies, Universities and so on.
Keywords: environmental harm, critical criminology, victimisation, victimology, green crime