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Climate Change: Setting Foot In Indian Environment Judiciary

Understanding the change

The way we have handled the phase of development and got here.. covid 19 that has effected more than millions of people and killed exodus population globally is absolutely appalling. Global crises like Locust plague, Australian bush fires, Hurricane Harvey, Antarctic melting at alarming rate, Coral bleaching, Kerala Floods are to name few which indicate towards the negligence in respect to climate change.

Temperature of our planet is substantially influenced by the amount of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Adding Greenhouse gases is warming the planet and this fact is not a new scientific finding. In late 19th century, Svante Arrhenius, a Nobel Prize winning Swedish Scientist wrote a paper in which he stated that the release of Carbon dioxide would substantially warm the planet.[1]

Stand of National Green Tribunal

National Green Tribunal in India in its expect to accomplish condition equity to address environment issues have been alluding to climate change and Global warming a lot sooner than the worry picked up the national and universal significance. Tribunal since its functioning begun has dealt with that judicial commitment with climate concerns.

In the matter of Rohtang pass where Tribunal discussed various negative environmental impacts of black carbon on glaciers. Considerable increase in vehicular traffic in Himachal Pradesh, particularly, in this part, has resulted in blackening/browning of snow cover in mountains, especially emissions of burnt hydrocarbon and carbon soot. India emits 534 kilotons of Black Carbon annually with major contributions from domestic usage, burning of crop residues, sugar industry, dung cake burning, vehicles, brick kilns, steel industry and power plants. Dust and Black Carbon from forest fire also accelerate melting of snow and glaciers in the Himalayas.

This is because black color absorbs all colors of light. The light absorbed by the black material interacts with atoms and molecules and converts the light energy into heat energy.

This heat energy accelerates melting of glaciers. The increasing congestion in the form of mass tourism in and around Rohtang Pass affects the topographic fragility and ecological delicacy of this area.[2] Tribunal on considering the impact of excess human activities direct to the state government to control pollution, regulate the number of vehicles permitted to ply in the area, keep close tabs on effect of tourism by  imposing a pollution tax on tourists and prohibit crop residue burning.

Another landmark case in relation to the emission HCFC-22 (Chlorodifluoromethane) and climate change.

The National Green held that It is indisputable that the greenhouse gases have impact on global warming and global warming has affect on several facets of human life i.e., air, ecology, agriculture and the whole socio economic life in every part of the globe. It will be the obligation of statutory authorities and the Central Government to take steps which would help in improving the environment on the one hand while protecting it from being polluted or being adversely affected on the other.[3]

Judgments, orders and many decisions of National Green Tribunal signal their readiness to deal with the issue of climate change factor. The tribunal has acknowledged climate change as a reality and there is its causality and risk. All the more essentially, the tribunal also accepts that the judiciary as well as government bodies have an obligation to prevent ill effects of climate change.

Hon'ble Mt. Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Chief Justice of Madhya Pradesh High Court, in international Conference on global environment issues organized by NGT addressed the gathering by drawing attention toward sinking states: His address aimed at emphasizing on the proactive role played by the tribunal and Indian judiciary at large in reminding the people of their fundamental duties and commitments towards protection of the environment.

The discussion further orbit around the phenomenon of sinking Islands, which is a result of rapid global warming, and climate change caused by emission of the greenhouse gases and rapid industrialization. There were other esteemed speakers who spoke and expressed their concern toward the issue of climate change and the broadminded approach of tribunal in dealing with matters concerning to emission of greenhouse gases.

India's stand on climate change

India as a developing country doesn't purchase the contention of the developed nations that the worry for the planet's present atmosphere must override the authentic blame that the developing nations do not contribute a single step towards climate change. India has taken numerous measures domestically.

Reforming Energy Markets (Electricity Act 2005, Tariff Policy 2003, Biodiesel Purchase Policy, Energy Conservation Act, 2001,other steps taken includes launching and promotion of biomass gasifies, biogas and excrement, advancement of solar water radiators, solar PVs,  energy generation from rural waste, etc Government launched its National Climate Change Action Plan in 2008 bringing together existing and proposed efforts at decarburization under eight national missions: solar energy; enhanced energy efficiency; sustainable habitats; water; the Himalayan ecosystem; sustainable agriculture; and strategic knowledge for climate change.

The Hon'ble Supreme court of India, High courts and The National Green Tribunal despite of the absence of any laws pertaining to climate change as of now finds its existing domestic environmental laws and constitution to be the source of duty in combating climate change.

In India too, many hooks exist for climate litigation in public and private law. There are a wide range of rights available in constitution pertaining to environment and conservation which can be directly associated with climate change.

Climate considerations are already being voiced in Nation Green tribunal and it is only a matter of time before claims for clear mitigation and adaptation measures are argued before Tribunal or Indian courts. If it is an important environmental issue in India or is a matter of environment concern- Indian Judiciary courts and The National Green Tribunal will never be far behind.

Countries like Australia, Mexico, U.K, and New Zealand have already have their own laws specially focusing on climate change. Enactment of legislation exclusively for climate change is now the need of an hour for country like India.

End-Notes:
  1. Svante Arrhenius, XXXI.On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature of the ground, 41 The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 237-276 (1896).
  2. Hon'ble Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar (Chairperson) & Hon'ble Mr. U.D. Salvi (Judicial Member) & Hon'ble Dr. D.K. Agrawal (Expert Member) & Hon'ble Mr. Bikram Singh Sajwan (Expert Member) Court On Its Own Motion vs State Of Hp Ors, greentribunal.gov.in, (n.d), http://greentribunal.gov.in/Writereaddata/Downloads/237_2013(THC)(App)6Feb2014_final_order.pdf
  3. Hon'ble Mr. Justice Swatanter Kumar (Chairperson) &  Hon'ble Mr. Justice M.S. Nambiar (Judicial Member) & Hon'ble Dr. D.K. Agrawal (Expert Member) & Hon'ble Mr. Bikram Singh Sajwan (Expert Member) & Indian Council for Enviro-legal Action v MoEFCC and Ors ,  Greentribunal.gov.in, (n.d), http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/Writereaddata/Downloads/170-2014(PB-I-Judg)OA-10-12-2015.pdf

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