The right time for India to have its own climate law

 A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. Franklin D. Roosevelt

What is climate 

The normal weather condition of a particular  region. It is mainly the pattern of variation in temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, precipitation, in a given region over long periods. 

Than what is climate change 

Climate change mainly means  a change in the average conditions — such as temperature and rainfall — in a region over a long period of time. 

India is an agricultural  based economy and its beauty is based on its environment which is seen from Himalayas in the north to kanyakumari in the south. With beautiful mountain ranges and flora and fauna.

But we are seeing that India is now facing a lot of climate change like temperature rising, glaciers melting, rising sea level.

India is now amongst the third ranking among the emission of greenhouse gases. We should take all steps to control this and have some strict laws.

Environmental law and policies

Before India’s independence several environmental legislations existed, but the real impetus for bringing about a well-developed framework came only after the UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, 1972). The National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning within the Department of Science and Technology was set up in 1972 and in 1985 it came into a full-fledged Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF)  which today is the apex administrative body in the country for regulating and ensuring environmental protection. After the Stockholm Conference, in 1976, constitutional sanction was given to environmental concerns through the 42nd Amendment, which incorporated them into the Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights and Duties.

During British time we had the Indian penal code 1860,  factory act 1897. And after independence we have many laws like National Environment Policy, 2006, Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981,Motor Vehicles Act ,1988,The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972,The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980,

Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA)

Current Laws and Gaps

  • Existing Laws are not adequate to deal with climate change.

Like laws for the environment, water and air are there but climate is not about water or air. We should have laws which would cover the impacts of floods, and how to reduce future climate impacts. The Law on environment like  Environment (Protection) Act is inadequate to deal with violations on climate. 

  • We should integrate climate action- adaption, mitigation and monitoring. 

  •  The 500 Gigawatt by 2030 goal for renewable, solar or wind power  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.

Creation of commission

A climate law could consider these aspects.

  •  One, 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 implementation of plans and programmes on climate.  The Commission could have quasi­ judicial powers with powers of a civil court

  • Second, we need a system of liability and accountability at short­, medium­ and long term levels when we face hazards.

In an order of the National Green Tribunal in 2016, the court examined the damage caused when a cloudburst occurred  in 2013 in Pauri, Uttarakhand which damaged a lot of property and lives were lost.

Conclusion

India needs an  urgent moral imperative to tackle climate change and reduce its worst impacts. But we also should have laws which should have the spine, the heart and teeth also