GEO - PhD Educational Meetings: The Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes

Published on
November 18, 2021

Participants: Yousra, Awang, Robbith, Tom, Ismail, and Wenyuan (FNP)

On the 27th of October, PhDs from the GEO group and a special PhD guest from FNP met in Amsterdam to visit the Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes (CICC). This event is part of the series of PhDs Educational Meetings that happen once a month and are organized by the GEO PhDs themselves, aimed at enhancing the learning experience outside of the normative university space and creating a stronger connection and sense of community for its members.

by Yousra Makanse

The CICC exhibition is a collaboration between British academic, writer, lawyer, and activist Radha D’Souza and Dutch artist Jonas Staal commissioned and developed by Framer Framed. It consists of a large-scale installation in the form of a tribunal that prosecutes intergenerational climate crimes.

According to the organizers, the CICC provides evidence of past and present climate crimes by looking at their impact in the past, here and now, as well as on planetary life in the future. As such, the tribunal rejects the linear, individualized narratives that underlie the current legal system. In addition to prosecutors, witnesses, and the public, the tribunal consists of an ecology populated by extinct animals, plants, and ammonite fossils. Each of them, in a different language, is referred to as “comrade”. These non-human ancestors are both evidence of past intergenerational climate crimes and witness to the collective effort of the CICC to contribute to intergenerational climate justice in the present and future.

The plenary
The plenary

It was Tom Rowe’s idea to take the PhDs to Framer Framed. In his words:

“Firstly, I thought it would be good to do something interactive in the wide world outside Wageningen. I always find art to be a rich source of inspiration, and I think it’s important to consider alternative ways of addressing the issues we are researching. Furthermore, while we have the opportunity to enter these kinds of spaces we should do so - it’s important to get out of the office! Secondly, I wanted to choose something related to my PhD project, and the notions of temporality, future, and care implicated in the Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes are central to my research and I thought the exhibition would be a fun way for others to engage with these ideas.”

Our intergenerational extinct comrades
Our intergenerational extinct comrades

The court initially put three large multinational companies - Unilever, ING, and Airbus - on trial, representing the many other global companies who allegedly have committed serious climate crimes over the years through their business operation. Although the ‘Climate Criminals’ that are convicted by the court’s jury are not (yet) legally bound to pay fines or make atonement, the court is still a platform for creating awareness and calling on actors (especially the state and private companies) to realize their intergenerational climate crimes towards mitigatory efforts.

The CICC exhibition is a collaboration between the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, Amsterdam Fonds Voor de Kunst (AFK), Mondriaan Fund Amsterdam, and Gemeente Amsterdam. By cooperating with many stakeholders, the organizer hopes to extend and spread awareness of climate justice to achieve a more inclusive and sustainable development globally.


PhDs being PhDs
PhDs being PhDs

We believe the exhibition inspires people to critically reflect on intergenerational justice and the linkage between justice and “human” rights. Considering the rising environmental crisis, we are at the crossroads of history. Justice should not be constructed as static but intergenerational, representing the past, the present, and the future. Justice should not be built as a privilege confined within human beings but a universal right of all beings.

For more information about the CICC: