Environmental crimes are the train robberies of the 21st century: High-profit and low-risk, they are generally carried out by perpetrators that are better informed, better organized, and better funded than law enforcement agencies. That was the message delivered by the Environmental Investigation Agency at a Royal Institute of International Affairs seminar held yesterday in London, where speakers warned that international environmental criminals are lining their pockets with lucrative and illegal activities such as dumping toxic waste, manufacturing and selling illicit chemicals, trading in endangered species, and illegal logging. Gavin Hayman, an associate fellow with the institute, put the price tag for environmental crimes at about $40 billion per year. But tackling the criminals is a tall order, because enforcement agencies are under-funded, unable to cover the vast territories assigned to them, and frequently open to bribery at the local level.
Get Grist in your inbox