[23 April 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: Restoring earth’s right to ‘good health’

Mains PYQ Relevance: 

Q)  ‘Clean energy is the order of the day.’ Describe briefly India’s changing policy towards climate change in various international fora in the context of geopolitics. (UPSC IAS/2022)

Q) ‘Climate change’ is a global problem. How India will be affected by climate change? How Himalayan and coastal states of India will be affected by climate change? (UPSC 2017)


With reference to ‘Global Climate Change Alliance’, which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC 2017)
1.  It is an initiative of the European Union.
2.  It provides technical and financial support to targeted developing countries to integrate climate change into their development policies and budgets.
3.  It is coordinated by World Resources Institute (WRI) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
a)      1 and 2 only
b)      3 only
c)       2 and 3 only
d)      1, 2 and 3


Prelims: Climate Change Reports;

Mains: Environmental Governance; Climate Justice;

Mentor comments: Recently, climate variability in the form of floods and cyclones has destroyed crops, property and infrastructure, as well as in negative impacts on human health and well-being. All of these impacts set back general socio-economic development. Also globally, Climate change impacts, an array of Internationally guaranteed Human Rights. States have their own set of challenges to take effective measures to redress these climate impacts, and therefore, to mitigate climate change, and to ensure that all human beings have the necessary capacity to adapt to the climate crisis. We must ensure climate justice requires climate action to be consistent with existing human rights, standards, and principles.

Let’s learn

Why in the News?

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that countries have a responsibility to protect their citizens from the consequences of climate change, setting a legal precedent for future climate litigation.

  • Recently, our Supreme Court has also underscored the urgency of recognizing climate change as a human rights crisis.
  • These two landmark decisions have set important precedents for legal accountability and policy action to address the adverse impacts of climate change on individuals and communities.

How is the Climate crisis interrelated with Human Rights?

  • The 5th Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that climate change is caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • This year’s unprecedented heat was accompanied by other alarming trends, including ocean heat accumulation, sea level rise, Antarctic Sea ice loss, and glacier retreat.
  • Among other impacts, climate change negatively affects people’s rights to health, housing, water, and food.
  • Countries such as Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Finland, South Korea, South Africa, and Philippines have enacted comprehensive climate laws that have facilitated the mobilization of public sector resources, increased capacity for climate action, and promoted cross-sectoral collaboration.

Challenges faced by India:

  • Rising Temperatures and Natural Disasters: More than 80% of its population lives in districts that are at risk of climate-induced disasters. They are majorly affecting livelihoods, food security, and exacerbating existing socio-economic inequalities.
  • Agri-dependent Population: With a 1.2 billion growing population and its high dependence on agriculture, India probably will be severely impacted by continuing climate change.
  • Melting of Himalayan Glaciers: Global observations of melting glaciers suggest that climate change is well underway in the region, with glaciers receding at an average rate of 10–15 meters per year.
  • Forest Wealth on decrease: India’s forests are already changing because of socioeconomic pressures; virgin forest areas are less dense and monocultures and plantations are preferred to native species. These conditions will be greatly exacerbated by climate change.
    • Forest Fires: As per State of the Forest Report 2019, over 36% of India’s forest cover is prone to fires, recently being the Nilgiri Forest Fires.

Efforts made by the Indian Government:

  • Worked on Decoupling Emissions: India has achieved two of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) targets:
    • First, by reducing the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33% to 35% from the 2005 level.
    • Second, by achieving 40% cumulative electric power installed capacity from non-fossil fuel sources, well ahead of the target year of 2030. 
  • Sustainable Development Goals: India’s localization model for the SDGs, has successfully integrated into local-level planning through multi-tiered and multi-stakeholder processes.
    • For example, in programs like poverty alleviation, food security, access to clean water and sanitation, and gender equality.
  • Judicial Intervention: Looking at the impacts of climate change from a rights perspective, affecting humanity’s right to health, life, and liberty, the Supreme Court has brought them within the purview of Constitutional Fundamental Rights.

Measures to Enhance India’s Climate Governance:

  • To Mitigate Climate Change:  States must act to limit anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases (e.g. mitigate climate change), including through regulatory measures, to prevent to the greatest extent possible the current and future negative human rights impacts of climate change.
  • Restoring Capacity to Adapt to Climate Change: States must build adaptive capacities in vulnerable communities, by devoting adequate resources to the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights of all persons, particularly those facing the greatest risks.
  • To Ensure Effective Remedy for Human Rights: States should be accountable to rights-holders for their contributions to climate change including for failure to adequately regulate the emissions of businesses under their jurisdiction.
  • To Ensure Equity: Those who have contributed the least to greenhouse gas emissions (i.e. the poor, children, and future generations) are those most affected. Hence bringing Equity is a must.





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