A bicycle thief has been jailed for three years for ‘ecological crimes’ in Belgium because his victims would be forced to drive their cars instead.
A judge at Brussels Criminal Court heard the man in his 40s stole a cycle in October and has 17 previous convictions.
The judge said: ‘It is therefore advisable to severely punish the defendant who commits crimes the gravity of which is important for the planet, since the victim deprived of his bicycle has no other option than to use a more polluting means of transport.
He added that the man’s thefts were ‘contributing to global warming, and all this to allow the accused to buy narcotics.’
The unnamed thief did not attend court last Thursday and the judge ordered his arrest, Belgian newspaper La Dernière Heure reported.
The court heard the man had served a previous 15-month prison sentence for bicycle theft in January 2018.
In total, he has been arrested 44 times between 1995 and 2019 and served 12 years in prison for 17 prior convictions.
Ecological crimes are usually restricted to actions that have a more direct impact on the environment, like polluting rivers or emitting greenhouse gases.
But campaigners are increasingly calling for the scope of such crimes to be greatly widened.
Writing for the UNESCO Courier last year, Professor McKinnon she wrote: ‘We reserve the hard treatment of punishment for conduct that damages the things we hold most fundamentally valuable. Climate change is causing precisely such damage.’
Even the Pope is considering introducing new ‘ecological sins’ into the Catholic Church’s teachings to protect ‘our common home’.
Pope Francis said in November: ‘We have to introduce, we are thinking about it, in the catechism of the Catholic Church, the sin against ecology, the sin against our common home, because it’s a duty.’
He was addressing members of the International Association of Penal Law in Rome.