Climate is a weather condition of the place or area; conditions of
temperature, rainfall, wind, etc. The term 'climate' describes the general
average pattern of the weather in a place over a period of years. Climatologists
usually considers a period of 30 years to assess the climate of any place.
Weather is the condition of the atmosphere at a particular place and name. It is
characterized by parameters such as the temperature, humidity, wind and rain.
Climate is the long-run pattern of weather conditions for a given area.
Until the middle of the twentieth century, the earth's climate was generally
regarded an unchanging, but it is now known to be in a continuous and delicate
state of flux. Change is a fundamental characteristic of the environment. As the
climate has been changing, accordingly, minor changes in the climate would have
a massive effect on the basic resources like food, water, etc.
The factors that influence the global climate are the amount of solar energy the
earth receives, the condition of the atmosphere, the shape and rotation of the
earth, and the currents and other processes of the ocean. The atmosphere is
warming, and this trend will continue.
By the year of 2050, the scientists predicted that the world will be warmer by
an average of between 1.5�C and 4.5�C. A Task Group set up by WHO had warned
that climatic change may have serious impact on human health. Climatic change
will increase various current health problems, and may also bring new and
Climate change and air pollution have been a matter of serious concern all over
the world in the last few decades. The present review has been carried out in
this concern over the Indian cities with significant impacts of both the climate
change and air pollution on human health.
The expanding urban areas with extreme climate events (high rainfall, extreme
temperature, floods, and droughts) are posing human health risks. The
intensified heat waves as a result of climate change have led to the elevation
in temperature levels causing thermal discomfort and several health issues to
urban residents. The study also covers the increasing air pollution levels above
the prescribed standards for most of the Indian megacities.
The aerosols and PM concentrations have been explored and hazardous health
impacts of particles that are inhaled by humans and enter the respiratory system
have also been discussed. The air quality during COVID-2019 lockdown in Indian
cities with its health impacts has also been reviewed.
Finally, the correlation between climate change, air pollution, and
urbanizations has been presented as air pollutants (such as aerosols) affect the
climate of Earth both directly (by absorption and scattering) and indirectly (by
altering the cloud properties and radiation transfer processes).
So, the present review will serve as a baseline data for policy makers in
analyzing vulnerable regions and implementing mitigation plans for tackling air
pollution. The adaptation and mitigation measures can be taken based on the
review in Indian cities to reciprocate human health impacts by regular air
pollution monitoring and addressing climate change as well.
Meaning of climatic change
Average weather of an area is called climate. Climate is the average of general
weather conditions, seasonal variations and extremes of weather in a region over
a long period, at least 30 years. Since the beginning of this century, it is
evidenced that there has been a rise in global mean temperatures of about 0.5�C.
The enhancement of temperature on earth is called "Global Warming". If the
warming is allowed to rise, there shall be several adverse effects upon the
earth. In the year 1998, the average temperature of the world was recorded as
58�F which is the highest in the century.
Definition of climatic change
The Convention on Climatic Change, 1992 defines "Adverse effects on climatic
change" under Article 1(1); "Climate Change" has been defined under Article
1(2). And Article 1(3) of the Convention deals about "Climate System".
Legal instruments on climatic changeThe important legal instruments relating to climatic changes are as follows:
The United Nations Legal Instruments
Other International Fora
- The United Nations Framework Convention on Climatic Change (UNFCC) / UN
- Paris Agreement
- Kyoto Protocol
- Inter-Governmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC)
- G8 and G20
- Forum of Major Economies on Climate and Energy (MEF)
- Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
- International Energy Agency (IEA)
India and Climate Change
India is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. About half of
India's population is dependent upon agriculture or other climate sensitive
sectors. About 12% of India is flood prone while 16% is drought prone.
India is now the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after
China and the United States. India has almost tripled its annual emission
between 1990 and 2009 from less than 600 metric tons to more than 1700 metric
tons. India's annual emissions of carbon oxide are projected to further increase
almost 2.5 times between 2008 to 2035.
The net greenhouse gas emissions from India with land use, land use change and
forestry in 2007 were 1727.71 million tons of carbon dioxide. While the energy
sector constituted 8% of the net carbon dioxide emissions, industry sector,
agriculture and waste sector constituted 22%, 17% and 3% respectively of the net
carbon oxide emission.
Thus, climate change and energy are now a focus of local, state and national
attention around the world. Though India earlier emphasized that it being a
developing country with historically low per capita emission rate, it is not
responsible for past greenhouse gas emissions.
However, India has now become a key player in international negotiations and has
begun implementing a diverse portfolio of policies, nationally and within
individual states, to improve energy efficiency, develop clean sources of energy
and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Causes of environmental degradation
The underlying causes of environmental degradation in India takes within its
fold various social economic and institutional factors. While the social factors
include excessive population, poverty, and unchecked urbanization, the economic
factors include market failures or the non-existent or poorly functioning
markets for environmental goods and services.
And the unprecedented growth in all sectors of the economy including transport,
industries, port and harbor activities etc. without any corresponding measures
to check the resultant environmental degradation. Various institutional factors
like lack of awareness and poor infrastructure make implementation of most of
the laws relating to environment, extremely difficult and ineffective.
Environmental Laws and Policies
Even before India's independence in the year 1947, 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). Under the influence of this declaration, the National Council for
Environmental Policy and Planning within the Department of Science and
Technology was set up in 1972.
This Council later evolved into a full-fledged Ministry of Environment and
Forests (MoEF) in 1985 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.
Then, what approach should India adopt in formulating policy responses to
climate change, both domestically and internationally? In recent years, there
has been a vibrant debate on this question. Though India already has several
substantive laws for prevention and/or regulation of any activity that may cause
climate change, including:
During the British Regime
- Shore Nuisance (Bombay and Kolaba) Act, 1853
- The Indian Penal Code, 1860
- The Indian Easements Act, 1882
- The Fisheries Act, 1897
- The Factories Act, 1897
- The Bengal Smoke Nuisance Act, 1905
- The Bombay Smoke Nuisance Act, 1912
- The Elephant's Preservation Act, 1879
- Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, 1912.
Post-Independence of India
- Setting up of National Council for Environmental Policy and Planning was
set up in 1972 which was later evolved into Ministry of Environment and
Forests (MoEF) in 1985.
- Policy Statement for Abatement of Pollution and the National
Conservation Strategy and Policy Statement on Environment and Development
brought out by the MoEF in 1992
- EAP (Environmental Action Programme) was formulated in 1993 with the
objective of improving environmental services and integrating environmental
considerations into development programs.
- National Environment Policy, 2006
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
- Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
- Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
- Atomic Energy Act of 1982
- Motor Vehicles Act , 1988
- The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
- The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
- Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (EPA)
- The National Environment Appellate Authority Act, 1997
- Public Liability Insurance Act (PLIA), 1991
- National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995
- Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notifications,
However, a specific guiding national strategy that addresses India's development
concerns and mitigation and adaptation challenges was also important. This was
the frame work that was laid out in the 'National Action Plan on Climate Change
(NAPCC), Prime Minister's Council for Climate Change, Government of India
(2008)' and its subsidiary Eight Missions:
- National Solar Mission (started in 2010);
- National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (approved in 2009);
- National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (approved in 2011);
- National Water Mission;
- National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (approved in
- National Mission for a Green India (approved in 2014);
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (approved in 2010); and
- National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change.
The Eight Missions listed above are expected to advance India's development and
define its approach to climate mitigation and adaption while satisfying the
principles of the National Action Plan on Climate Change.
Besides the afore stated legislations, rules and policies, there are several
other plans and incentives by the governments for energy conservation and to
mitigate impact of climate change.
Each State is now also in the process of developing State Action Plans on
climate change with recommendations on how mitigation and adaptation can be
main-streamed into development policy. Individual ministries and agencies have
also developed their respective mission documents and policies for addressing
climate change. It is hoped that the National Climate Change Strategy reported
to be in the making shall be soon ready for its implementation.
Environment and Indian Constitution
The Indian Constitution is one of the few in the world that contains specific
provisions on the environment. The Directive Principles of State Policy and the
Fundamental Duties chapters explicitly enunciate the national commitment to
protect and improve the environment. Three constitutional provisions bear
directly on environmental matters.
- First and foremost, Article 21 states:
"No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to
procedure established by law." In Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar, A.I.R
1991 SC 420, and Virendra Gaur v. State of Haryana, (1995) 2 SCC 577, the
Supreme Court recognized several liberties that are implied by Article 21,
including the right to a healthy environment. The State High courts have
followed the Supreme Court's lead, and virtually all now recognize an
environmental dimension to Article 21.
- Second, Article 48A requires that:
"The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to
safeguard the forests and wild life of the country."
- Third, Article 51A establishes that:
"It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the
natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild life and to have
compassion for living creatures."
Though these latter two provisions have traditionally been incapable of
enforcement through the exercise of writ jurisdiction, courts have increasingly
relied upon them for support in resolving environmental controversies.
Role of Judiciary
Indian environmental law has seen considerable development in the last over
three decades. Most of the principles under which environmental law works in
India today were assembled over the last over three decades. A predominant share
of essence of the existing law relating to the environment has developed through
careful judicial thinking in the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
process of adjudication on the environmental matters, the Supreme Court has
actually come up with the new pattern of "judge-driven implementation" of
environmental administration in India. The court has played a pivotal role in
interpreting those laws and has successfully isolated specific environmental law
principles upon the interpretation of Indian statutes and the Constitution,
combined with a liberal view towards ensuring social justice and the protection
of human rights. So, when one analyses the Indian environmental law's
development path, one will surely have to keep in mind the concept of judicial
The orders and directions of the Supreme Court cover a wide range of areas
whether it be air, water, solid waste or hazardous waste. The field covered is
very vast such as - vehicular pollution, pollution by industries, depletion of
forests, illegal felling of trees, dumping of hazardous waste, pollution of
rivers, illegal mining etc.
The list is unending. The Supreme Court has passed
orders for closure of polluting industries and environmentally harmful
aqua-farms, mandated cleaner fuel for vehicles, stopped illegal mining activity,
and protected forests and architectural treasures like Taj Mahal.
Some of the judgments wherein various principles relating to environment law
were judicially recognized are worth mentioning:
- In MC Mehta v. UOI, WP (C) 13029/1985, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its order
dated 24-10-2018, decided that no motor vehicle conforming to the emission
standard BS-IV shall be sold or registered in the entire country with effect
from 01.04.2020, and the same shall be substituted by BS-VI compliant vehicles.
Certain orders were also passed in therein with respect to imposing ban on
diesel vehicles to curb the air pollution.
- In MC Mehta v. UOI, AIR 1987 SC 1086 (Oleum Gas Leak case), the Supreme Court
formulated an indigenous jurisprudence of Absolute Liability in compensating the
victims of pollution caused by hazardous and inherently dangerous industries.
- In M.C. Mehta vs. Union of India, AIR 1988 SCR (2) 538, wherein the issue of
pollution of the Ganga River by the hazardous industries located on its banks
was highlighted, the Hon'ble Supreme Court ordered the closure of a number of
polluting tanneries near Kanpur.
- The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of TN Godavarman Thirumulpad vs. Union
of India and Ors., W.P.(C) No. 202 of 1995, dealing with the issue of livelihood
of forest dwellers in the Nilgiri region of Tamil Nadu being affected by the
destruction of forests, passed a series of directions.
- Ganesh Wood Products v. State of Himachal Pradesh, AIR 1996 SC 149
judgment expanded the definition of forest to its ordinary dictionary meaning,
and imposed a ban on all non-forest activities on forest land without prior
approval of the Central Government and directions were given to constitute
Expert Committee in each State to identify forests and for movement and disposal
of timber, and for constitution of a High Power Committee to deal with forest.
- MC Mehta v. Kamal Nath, (1996) 1 SCC 38 is a case where there was an attempt
to divert the flow of a river for augmenting facilities in a motel. The Supreme
Court interfered by recognizing the Public Trust Doctrine and held that the
State and its instrumentalities as trustees have a duty to protect and preserve
natural resources such as rivers, lakes, forests, open spaces and other common
- MI Builders Pvt. Ltd. V. Radhey Shyam Sahu, AIR 1996 SC 2468, wherein also
the Hon'ble Supreme Court applied Public Trust Doctrine and asked a city
development authority to dismantle an underground market built beneath a garden
of historical importance.
- In Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. UOI, AIR 1996 SC 2718, the Supreme Court
adopted the Precautionary Principle to check pollution of underground water
caused by the leather industries in Tamil Nadu. The Hon'ble Court also opined
the precautionary principle and the Polluter Pays Principle are part of the
environmental law of the country.
- In Indian council for Enviro-Legal Action v. UOI, AIR 1996 SC 1446, the
Supreme Court reiterated and applied the principle to restore the environment of
a village whose ecology had been destroyed by the sludge left out by the trial
run of the industries permitted to produce the 'H' acid.
- In State of Himachal Pradesh v. Ganesh Wood Products, AIR 1996 SC 149, the
Supreme Court invalidated forest-based industry, recognizing the Principle of
Inter-Generational Equity as being central to the conservation of forest
resources and sustainable development.
- The Hon'ble Supreme Court also noted in Indian Council for Enviro-Legal
Action v. Union of India (CRZ Notification case), (1996) 5 SCC 281 that the
Principle of Sustainable Development would be violated if there were a
substantial adverse ecological effect caused by industry.
- The Principle of Sustainable Development was also recognized by the
Supreme Court of India in the M.C. Mehta v. Union of India (Taj Trapezium case), AIR
1997 SC 734.
- In Enkay Plastics Pvt. Ltd. Vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors., 2000(56) DRJ
828, the Delhi High Court upheld the order of closure of certain units which
were manufacturing Urea Formaldehyde Powder in thickly populated residential
areas and held that the direction to close down such industries cannot be
treated as violative of Article 19 of the Constitution as it is in the larger
public interest to prevent any danger to the health and life of the public at
- Amongst others, the Delhi High Court has also directed for preservation
of ancient monuments of historical importance, restoration of water bodies
in and around Delhi and in maintaining the forest ridge area in Delhi which
are the lungs of the city.
8 Salient Points on Vienna Convention
- Vienna Convention is the first of its kind to be signed by each
member-state involved in it and was universally ratified on 16th September
- To strengthen the Vienna Convention's goals of protecting the ozone
layer, Montreal Protocol was brought in 1987 with an aim to reduce the
production and consumption of (Ozone Depleting Substances) ODSs to protect the ozone layer.
- In 1994, 16th September (The day when Montreal Protocol was made open
for signatures and the Vienna Convention was universally ratified) was
proclaimed as Ozone Day by the UN General Assembly.
- The 8th amendment was made to Montreal Protocol and it came to be known
as Kigali Agreement (The Amendment was signed in Rwanda's capital Kigali.)
It aims to reduce the manufacture and usage of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by
about 80-85% from the baselines until 2045
- The member countries meet every three years to decide over research and
systematic observations in the ozone layer.
- Ozone Research Managers is a forum that was introduced post-Vienna
Convention. It is a forum of experts specialized in research related to
- There is a multilateral fund that aids developing nations to help them
make a transition from ozone-depleting harmful chemicals.
- There are two trust funds associated with the Vienna Convention:
- Trust Fund for Vienna Convention
- Trust Fund for Research & Systematic Observations
- Vienna Convention - Conference of Parties
A Conference of Parties (COP) is held triennially. The latest COP will be the
12th COP to Vienna Convention that is scheduled to take place from 23 November
to 27 November 2020 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The 11th COP to Vienna Convention
met in November 2017 in Montreal, Canada.
Members of Vienna Convention
- There are 198 members under the Vienna Convention.
- The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) provides secretarial assistance
to the Convention.
Vienna Convention & IndiaIs India a member of the Vienna Convention?
Yes, India is a member of the Vienna Convention. It acceded to the convention in
1991 and became a party to the Montreal Protocol in 1992.
India's Actions in protecting the Ozone Layer
- The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change is entrusted with
the work related to the Montreal Protocol protection and implementation.
- Ozone Cell is set up for effective and timely implementation of the
- Carbon tetrachloride (CTC) has been completely phased out by India as of 1st
Stockholm Convention is a global treaty that was adopted by the Conference of
Plenipotentiaries in 2001 and came into force on 17th May 2004. It was
introduced to protect human health from harmful POPs suspended in the air for a
long period of time. The convention aims to reduce or eliminate the use of POPs
through the active measures of the member states.
Salient Points on Stockholm Convention:
Objectives & Aims of the Stockholm Convention
- The Global Environmental Facility (GEF) is the designated interim financial
mechanism for the Stockholm Convention.
- The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) takes the
responsibility for developing nations and transitioning economies to help them
implement Stockholm Convention measures.
There are three annexes under Stockholm Convention that define which POPs are
eliminated, restricted and which unintentionally produced POPs will be reduced:
- To implement control measures for the POPs
- To develop and implement action plans for unintentionally produced
- To develop inventories of the chemicals' stockpiles
- To review and update the National Implementation Plan
- To include the new chemicals in the reporting
- To include the new chemicals in the program for the effectiveness
Members of Stockholm Convention
- Annex A - Chemicals listed under this annexure are to be eliminated by the
member states (Some exceptions are given.)
- Annex B - Chemicals listed under this annexure are to be restricted for their
use. (Some exceptions are given.)
- Annex C - Unintentionally produced chemicals are to be reduced with measures
for ultimate elimination under this annexure.
Is India a member of Stockholm convention?
- As of May 2017, there are 181 parties to the Stockholm Convention who
have ratified it.
Yes, India is a party to the Stockholm Convention. In May 2002, India signed the
global treaty whereas it brought it in force in January 2006.
POPs & India
India's efforts towards meeting the aims of the Stockholm Convention
- According to The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) January 2018
report on POPs in Indian Environment, the level of POPs in Indian environment is high
because of poor management of e-waste and municipal and industrial wastes.
- India has been exempted from the ban of DDT as a result of the Stockholm
Convention (SC) and is allowed to produce and use DDT�but only for the
control of vector-borne diseases.
Global warming: causes
- Promotion of non-POP alternatives
- Insecticide Act, 1968 - Banning of use, manufacture and import of most of the
listed POPs under Stockholm Convention into India Insecticide Act, 1968
- India submitted its National Implementation Plan (NIP) on Persistent
Organic Pollutants in 2011 (It is yet to include 16 additionally added POPs.)
The Deforestation is one of the main reasons of global warming. Cutting and
burning of about 34 million acres of trees every year results in urbanization
and the land for factories timber lead to deforestation. In addition to the
deforestation, the below mentioned GHG's contributes to the global warming.
Recommendations and suggestions
The mitigation of climate change shall be achieved by following the
||Emission Of Green
- Power Plants (Burning of fossil fuels, Coal for electricity
- Cars and Vehicles (20% burning of gasoline in the engines of
- Buildings (The structures of Commercial & Residential buildings
require a lot of fuel to be burnt) which emits more CO2.
(20 times effectual than CO2)
- Rice Paddies: When rice fields are flooded, anaerobic
situation of the organic matter in the soil decays releasing
- Bovine Flatulence.
- Bacteria in flogs.
- Manufacture of Fossil Fuels.
||Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
- Nylon and Nitric acid production.
- Cars with Catalytic Converters.
- Use of Fertilizers in agriculture.
- Burning of organic matter.
- To cut down the use of fossil fuels and Chlorofluoro Carbons (CFC).
- To use energy more efficiently without wasting it.
- To increase the forest cover and tree plantations to utilize more CO2
from the atmosphere.
- To follow the sustainable agriculture.
- To Kyoto Protocol must be followed sincerely by all the countries
including U.S.A to reduce CO2 emission by 5.2%.
According to the chairman of the Alliance for Climate Protection and former U.S.
vice - president, Al Gore, who won the Nobel peace prize (2007), for his study
on climate change, the U.S must usher in a climate change. The American public
should demand that the U.S. join an International Treaty within next two years
that cuts global warming pollution by 90% in developed countries and by more
than half worldwide. The Kyoto Protocol has been so demonized in the U.S. It is
expected that U.S would sign by the end of 2009 but it has not yet signed this
The Fourth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
should be emphasized.
According to an Australian scientist, Professor Roger Short (2007), the age-old
tradition of cremation contributes to global warming and it ultimately leads to
climate change. He has suggested that people could choose to help environment
after death by being buried in a card board box under a tree. The tree gets
nutrients from the decomposing body and converts CO2 into O2 for decades.
During the creation of an average male, the body is heated to 850 degrees C for
90 minutes and 50 kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere in addition to the
burning of the wooden casket. It is not a bad idea to bequeath one's body which
is good for this planet.
What can we all do when we know and understand that climate change is a complex
bio-physical phenomenon with profound implications for human civilizations and
life on the planet? As a country, accustomed to natural climatic variability,
there is always a tendency to think that we have seen it all before and there is
But present-day climate change is different. It is now well accepted that human
beings have interfered with basic natural cycles, such as energy and water
cycles, which have kept our planet in equilibrium for millennia. Carbon dioxide
levels are now at their highest in six lacs fifty thousand years.
It is projected that at present rates of increase of emissions, the world is
heading to a 40 Celsius rise by the end of the century, which may not only spell
doom for wild wife and sea creatures but also significant stress on everything
from human health to livelihood security and economic development. In other
words, our life, our very existence may be at stake.
There is much that can be done. Addressing climate change means small, medium
and big actions. We can act in the full range of roles that we occupy - as
workers, students, consumers, investors, educators, entrepreneurs and as
citizens. And we can act in all of our spheres of influence - our homes,
schools, work places and in public life. We can all work to get out the message
that climate change is real, it is happening and we need to take action now to
The climate change is no more a concern of environment. It's been emerged as the
magnanimous developmental challenge for the entire planet. Few among the major
reasons for the failure of the working of UNFCC is that the convention is not
legally binding over the member parties and in the last few conferences held, it
is struggled to produce consensus. In addition to that, the vast majority of the
parties have failed to put forward any of the mentioned worthwhile targets.
Thus, the failure of the working of UNFCC can be corrected by translating the
UNFCC and other International Policy Instruments into Effective Instruments. The
Clear Climate Policy Signals need to reach the local levels to motivate them to
change their way of working and support the transactions on ground.
Written By: Bhaswat Prakash
, Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Pune (B.A.LL.B)