CEDLA Lecture. The Chevron-Texaco court case in Ecuador: Countering environmental injustice?

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In February 2011 Chevron was ordered by an Ecuadorean court to pay a fine of US$ 9.5 billion for the environmental damage caused in Ecuador’s Amazon region by Texaco, with which Chevron merged in 2001. This decision is applauded by environmental and indigenous organizations that have struggled for environmental justice for 17 years. The case holds interesting parallels to that over oil spills and gas flaring by Royal Dutch Shell’s subsidiary in Nigeria that is still under a Dutch court. These court decisions indicate that the environmental injustice of natural resource extraction in Latin America and other raw-materials producing regions may have reached its limits, and that local and global counter-forces are becoming more successful.

In his lecture, Joan Martinez Alier will examine the Chevron-Texaco court case (1993-2011) and the economic and legal reasoning behind the recent large fine. Comparisons will be made to similar cases in Latin America (e.g. against several companies for damage caused by the nematicide DBCP) and elsewhere. He will also give an overview of the main trends and limitations of previous environmental policies and academic approaches to environmental governance in the global South, and propose steps towards more sustainable and equitable natural resource use in the North and the South.

Prof. Dr. Joan Martínez Alier is Professor of Economics and Economic History at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He is the author of Ecological Economics: Energy, Environment and Society (1987) and The Environmentalism of the Poor: A Study of Ecological Conflicts and Valuation (2002), and he is an expert in the field of current environmental conflicts. A recent Spanish article of Joan Martínez Alier about the Chevron-Texaco case in Ecuador is published on ALAINET: http://www.alainet.org/active/44476&lang=es

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