Fact Check: Climate Activist Did NOT Call At WEF 2024 Davos Meeting For A Law That Would Label Farmers As Criminals

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: Climate Activist Did NOT Call At WEF 2024 Davos Meeting For A Law That Would Label Farmers As Criminals Safety Limits

Did a panelist at the 2024 World Economic Forum say that there should be a law labeling farmers as criminals or "murderers" for destroying nature? No, that's not true: Jojo Mehta, co-founder and executive director of Stop Ecocide International, which campaigns for environmental destruction to be legally recognized as a criminal offense, argued in Davos that limitations should be imposed on big players such as agricultural companies and energy producers, not ordinary individuals, to reduce damage to nature.

The claim appeared in this video (archived here) posted on TikTok by user @life_racer207777 (archived here) on January 19, 2024, titled "💯💯💯Don't give up cash 💯💯💯," translated from Romanian into English by Lead Stories staff.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-01-24 at 16.34.22.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Wed Jan 24 14:35:53 2024 UTC)

The woman speaking in the TikTok video summarizes several news stories, including reports about Mehta and the WEF. She says at the 1:30-minute mark, as translated from Romanian into English by Lead Stories staff:

In Davos, a crazy activist called for the introduction of a law to label farmers, animal breeders and energy producers as murderers. Yes, they are destroying nature. You heard right.

The author of the TikTok video shows a screenshot of an article published on the Romanian website Ziua News (archived here) on January 19, 2024, with the headline, as translated by Lead Stories staff: "Davos: Farmers and energy producers should be regarded as war criminals for destroying nature."

Both claims are inaccurate and decontextualized. Advocate for climate and environmental justice Jojo Mehta at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, explained the concept of "ecocide" during a panel discussion entitled "Where Nature Meets Conflict," on January 16, 2024. Starting at the 10:22-minute mark during the conversation (archived here), she said that ecocide is mass damage and destruction of nature and that her organization Stop Ecocide International and others are campaigning for ecocide to be legally recognized as a serious crime because "we have a kind of cultural very ingrained habit of not taking damage to nature as seriously as we take damage to people and property."

She also explained that there should be legally prescribed limits to reduce the damage that agriculture causes to nature:

If you are campaigning for human rights, at least you know mass murder and torture and all these things are serious crimes, but there is no equivalent in the environmental space. Unlike an international crime like genocide, that involves a specific intent, with ecocide what we see is actually what people are trying to do, what businesses are trying to do, is make money, is farm, is fish, is do all of these things that produce energy and so on. But what's missing is the awareness and conscience around the side effects, around the collateral damage that happens with that.

She added that putting boundaries and safety parameters in place in order to avoid severe, long-term, widespread harm, would steer high-level decisions in a healthier direction.

During the rest of the discussion, Mehta mentioned companies, not individuals, as being targeted by the legislation.

A text message posted on The Stop Ecocide International website's main page (archived here on January 24, 2024), titled "Ordinary people who are just trying to make a living are not responsible for ecocide" mentions the WEF discussion and adds two quotes attributed to Mehta that further clarify the work of the organization:

This legislation is aimed only at those most powerful players in industry and government, where a lack of responsibility and failure to adhere to existing regulation or rights frameworks can result in entire ecosystems being threatened or destroyed.

Ordinary people who are just trying to make a living are simply not responsible for mass deforestation, chemical pollution or the wholesale destruction of marine species. It's time instead to put safety parameters in place to guide and hold to account those individuals with responsibility for whole sectors and national policies ... exactly the kind of people attending in Davos.

Additional Lead Stories fact checks regarding the World Economic Forum can be found here.

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