- GS-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
Climate Law for India
Context: COP26 at Glasgow is important as it will call for practical implementation of the 2015 Paris Accord, setting the rules for the Accord.
Also, this is the right time for India to consider setting up a climate law while staying true to its goals of climate justice, carbon space and environmental protection.
Do You Know?
- India has 17 percent of the world’s population today, but the responsibility in emissions has been only 5 percent.
- India’s non-fossil fuel energy has increased by more than 25% in the last 7 years.And now it has reached 40 percent of our energy mix.
The Indian Proposals
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, on November 1 at Glasgow, a ‘Panchamrit solution’ that consists of
- India will reach its non-fossil energy capacity to 500 GW by 2030.
- India will meet 50 percent of its energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030.
- India will reduce the total projected carbon emissions by one billion tonnes from now onwards till 2030.
- By 2030, India will reduce the carbon intensity of its economy by less than 45 percent.
- By the year 2070, India will achieve the target of Net Zero.
Current laws and gaps
- We have Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.These doesn’t cover the impacts of Climate Change or work to reduce future climate impacts
- EPA is grossly inadequate to deal with violations on climate. Clause 24 of the EPA states that if an offence is committed under the EPA or any other law, the person will be punished under the other law (for example, Code of Criminal Procedure). This makes the EPA subordinate to every other law.
- Our environmental laws lack integration of climate adaptation and mitigation.
- Comprehensive climate action is not just technological (such as changing energy sources or carbon intensity), but also needs to be nature-based (such as emphasising restoration of ecosystems, reducing natural hazard and increasing carbon sinks.)
- Climate action cannot be at the cost of increasing poverty.
- The 500 Gigawatt by 2030 goal for renewable, solar or wind power (of installed power capacity from non-fossil sources), can put critically endangered grassland and desert birds such as the Great Indian Bustard at risk, as they die on collision with wires in the desert.
What should be the primary components of Climate Law?
- A climate law should consider creating an institution that monitors action plans for climate change.
- A ‘Commission on Climate Change’ could be set up, with the power and the authority to issue directions, and oversee implementation of plans and programmes on climate.
- The Commission could have quasi-judicial powers with powers of a civil court to ensure that its directions are followed in letter and spirit.
- It should be assisted by a technical committee which can advise the commission in the discharge of its functions as well as guide various private and public agencies in meeting their climate-related obligations.
- The commission should trace carbon footprints of various sectors and make practical public interventions for reduction of footprints through policy guidance & technological support.
- Climate Law must ensure accountability
- There is a need for a system of liability and accountability at short-, medium- and long-term levels as we face hazards. This also means having a legally enforceable National Climate Change Plan that goes beyond just policy guidelines
We have an urgent moral imperative to tackle climate change and reduce its worst impacts. But we also should Indianise the process by bringing in a just and effective law.
Connecting the dots: