Climate Change Impact on India and World – International Reports, Key Observations, etc.

The right time for India to have its own climate law


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: COP26

Mains level: Paper 3- India needs climate laws


The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26, from October 31 to November 12, 2021), at Glasgow, Scotland is important as it will call for practical implementation of the 2015 Paris Accord, setting the rules for the Accord.

Indian proposals

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, on November 1 at Glasgow, a ‘Panchamrit solution’ which aims at reducing fossil fuel dependence and carbon intensity.
  • This also includes ramping up India’s renewable energy share to 50% by 2030.
  • Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav has reasserted the call for the promised $100 billion a year as support (from the developed world to the developing world).
  • But as we consider new energy pathways, we must also consider the question of climate hazard, nature-based solutions and national accountability.
  • This is the right time for India to mull setting up a climate law while staying true to its goals of climate justice, carbon space and environmental protection.

Why India needs climate law

  • There are a few reasons for this.
  • Existing laws not adequate: Our existing laws are not adequate to deal with climate change.
  • We have for example the Environment (Protection) Act (EPA), 1986, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
  • Yet, climate is not exactly water or air.
  • The Environment (Protection) Act is grossly inadequate to deal with violations on climate. Clause 24 of the Act, “Effect of Other Laws”, 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. 
  • There is a need to integrate climate action: Integration includes adaptation and mitigation — and monitoring progress.
  • Comprehensive climate action is not just technological such as changing energy sources or carbon intensity, but also nature-based such as emphasising restoration of ecosystems.
  • India’s situation is unique: Climate action cannot come by furthering sharpening divides or exacerbating poverty, and this includes our stated renewable energy goals.
  • The 500 Gigawatt by 2030 goal for renewable 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.

Suggestions on climate law

  • A climate law could consider two aspects.
  • Commission on climate change: 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.
  • System of liability and accountability: We need 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.
  • A Climate Commission could ideally prevent gross negligence in fragile areas and fix accountability if it arises.


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 — with guts, a spine, a heart, and, most importantly, teeth.

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